Chelsea Flower Power
I thoroughly enjoyed my annual visit to Chelsea Flower Show on the VIP Day again this week. It is one of the highlights of my year; I feel so lucky to be able to walk around enjoying the gardens instead of working in them and being responsible for them! This year’s show was billed to be ‘bigger and better’ than ever, especially after last year’s lack of show gardens, but I think it was nicely subdued, almost peaceful – although I’m sure that wasn’t the case for the rest of the week.
The weather was great – and had been good for the 19-day garden builds – and although tired, the designers were in good spirit. There was the continued emphasis on wellbeing and the health benefits of gardening and an air of romance, no doubt enhanced by the Royal Wedding. For the first time in Chelsea history, there were an equal number of female designers as male, which may explain the more ‘feminine’ planting schemes.
The planting was definitely my favourite of recent years. It was soft and informal with drifts of perennials amongst wildflowers, and even long grass. It was not unlike my own garden, where I adopt the ‘stick it in and hope it comes’ planting scheme, so I felt strangely ‘on trend’ for the first time.
Purples and oranges were apparently the colour trend, always a nice mellow mix, and the steel structures, straight lines and topiary had made way for billowy planting, curves and even a tree house with a slide.
I was impressed by the Wahun Water Garden with its show-stopping water feature and also the Pearlfisher’s Garden and its message about plastic in the ocean. The Yorkshire Garden seemed to be the most popular amongst the celebrities and everyone commented on their preference for the relaxed, informal planting.
As always the Artisan Gardens were beautiful, and I absolutely love the statuary and garden furniture stands. Spending most of my time in beautiful gardens, albeit working hard to keep them that way, I think the highlight of the show for me is the furniture and statuary – I have a wish list that includes a huge outdoor beanbag and swinging hammock seat. All I’ll need then is time to sit in them!
I have grown a reputation at Chelsea Flower Show for my beautifully embroidered boots. They have always been helpful in catching people’s attention, making it easier to ask for an interview. Joanna Lumley even made me an offer for them last year (which I politely declined).
So this year I thought I would improve on the MO and created my own bloomin’ lovely boots, covered in beautiful large silk flowers. They worked a treat. Not only did the celebrities love them, but I was the one being stopped for photos! American Vogue, UK Vogue and Country Living all took pics as did numerous visitors and I am curious to see where the photos turn up.
So if you happen to see a photo of my boots (as shown) do please let me know. Thank you.
Amongst this year’s celebrities were the usual Chelsea regulars including Bill Bailey, Joanna Lumley, Anneka Rice, Rob Brydon, and Esther Rantzen. The lovely Felicity Kendall told me that the last time she was at Chelsea Flower Show ‘it was in black and white’.
Diarmuid Gavin admitted he was glad to be having some time off but had lots of ideas for his next Chelsea garden, Rob Brydon was impressed with the gate on the Yorkshire garden, which closed by a simple rock on a chain method and was even more impressed to learn that’s how my own front gate closes! Piers Morgan apologised for not reading my book yet, and assured me he still had it, Dermot O’Leary recalled me teaching him to grow plants in a container for his windowsill on the Paul O’Grady Show years ago and Alex Jones recalled the charity events we worked at together years ago when she told me that when her dad referred to the Broom (the shrub) in her garden – she thought he meant a brush.
David Walliams was the only celebrity that refused an interview and was rather rude about it – I appreciate it is their prerogative but manners don’t cost anything.
So that’s Chelsea Flower Show over for another year; I loved it and feel lucky to have been a part of the VIP Day but am even luckier to love getting back to my spade and the secateurs and the real gardening world.
For more about the 2018 Chelsea celebrity interviews click here.