Press day at Chelsea Flower Show was warm and sunny – but a little bit on the breezy side – which meant a few technical problems for extrovert designer Diamuid Gavin and his ‘Hanging Gardens of Chelsea’.
Huge cranes are not normally a part of the Chelsea skyline, but this was what was required to suspend a 16 metre long planted pod over his ‘Irish Sky Garden’. Fortunately his guests inside the pod had a good head for heights.
Of course Chelsea is all about the gardens, the plants and the flowers but on press day, you just have to indulge in a bit of celeb spotting too. I managed to clock up a few famous faces, Bill Bailey, Barbara Windsor, Will Young, Jerry Hall and Gwyneth Paltrow’s car – which sadly was the nearest I got to the Hollywood star.
My personal celeb highlight was watching JLS having a crash course in flower arranging from London florist Simon Lycett, and over-hearing a comment from an RHS stalwart, ‘JLS? Sorry, who?’
But of course the real star of the show was David Denyer and his ‘A Sense of Perspective’. Having followed its progression since the designs were first revealed last autumn, I couldn’t wait to see it in the flesh.
And it didn’t disappoint, the subtle colour grading, the perfection of the workmanship and the quality of the flowers was just incredible – well done to David and his team for producing such a gorgeous piece of work.
The finals of the RHS Young Chelsea Florist of the Year were another floral highlight. The theme was ‘A Day at the Races’, for this the competitors had to design a jockey’s silk shirt. A challenge certainly, but the results were fabulous – well done to the RHS and the BFA for organising and running this annual competition.
There are many strange things to be seen at Chelsea on press day – but a horse in the Great Pavilion must be a first. Organised to promote ‘A Day at the Races’ the horse, a stunt horse and used to film work was beautifully behaved, and took having its picture taken in its stride.
Out in the show gardens the B&Q garden attracted a lot of attention. The tallest ever garden at Chelsea it is based entirely on sustainability, a theme carried on with M&G’s garden, a modern take on a traditional kitchen garden with cabbages and beans mingling amongst the roses and clematis.
The Artisan Gardens are new to Chelsea this year and are just delightful; my favourite was ‘A Postcard from Wales’ with a dilapidated boathouse, a cockle shell path and a fence made out of recycled wood and beachcombing finds. It was so beautifully done that you felt you were really there and it was easy to forget, just for a little while, that you were instead in the heart of London, at the world’s most famous flower show.
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