The playwright, Alan Melville once said, “If the ‘Private’ view of the Chelsea Flower Show is privacy, Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve is glorious isolation”. He has a point to a degree but nonetheless all the Show gardens and exhibits are exhilaratingly accessible, as are the celebrities. This year I had a chat and cwtch with Piers Morgan, (who said he would ‘think about’ doing an interview for Top talk!), discussed sweet peas with Nigel Havers, had even more compliments on my flowery footwear from Ringo Starr and Brendan Cole and had to refuse to sell by beautiful boots to Tara Palmer Tomkinson and Vanessa Feltz. Helen Mirren was intrigued by the carnivorous plants and Barbara Windsor was impressed by the beautiful floral jackets that had been created by the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies. Gwyneth Paltrow treated herself to a pair of posh gardening gloves, claiming they were ‘too beautiful to get dirty’ and Paul McKenna described one of the water features as ‘beautifully hypnotic’.
Diarmuid Gavin was his usual ‘laddish’ self, and was obviously relieved to be able to get his ‘Avatar-inspired’ pod airborne as 70 mph winds on Sunday had kept him grounded. “It’s not about the Medals,” he retorted to the Press referring to the fact that he has yet to win a Gold at Chelsea, “it’s about reaching new heights in garden design.”
The high winds were a talking point on Monday, not only because the copious amounts of pollen being swirled around but because Chelsea had the two tallest trees it had ever hosted as well as the tallest garden, the B & Q Garden; an inspirational creation encouraging us to use all available space to plant and produce food and providing the stark warning that were supplies to cease, food in London would run out in just four days.
Wales was well represented at the Show by two Artisan Gardens, as well as floral exhibits and a variety of Nurseries in the Grand Pavilion. Welsh designer, Andrea Gutherie created A Child’s Garden in Wales with Ysgol Bryn Castell and Heronsbridge School Horticulture Students and fair play, it immediately triggered childhood memories of my Granddad’s garden; designers Kati Crome and Maggie Hughes displayed A Postcard From Wales, explaining, “although we are based in Bucks, we both love Wales and spend as much time as we can there; West Wales in particular is a very magical place.”
Ann Marie Powell was thrilled with the way her British Heart Foundation Garden had turned out, “I was worried the red structures were going to be too harsh”, she explained, “but they are surprisingly soothing; the green planting helps calm it down too; it’s all very relaxing.”
Despite constructing two of the main Show Gardens, the frequent award winning landscaper, Mark Gregory admitted, “It’s been one of the most relaxed builds ever, we only had one day of light rain during the whole build.”
But the quote of the day went to creative metalworker, John Collins of www.straysparks.co.uk whom I also met at the Cardiff RHS Show; his work had been shortlisted for the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show Product of the Year and with a big smile, he confessed, “ I have never ever been so completely exhilarated and exhausted in my whole life.”