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Showing posts from May, 2010

Chelsea: My Take Home Ideas

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When I used to watch Chelsea just on the TV I always felt dissatisfied with my garden afterwards. However, after visiting I feel energised and come home brimming with ideas because attending allows you to see a lot of the fine detail and find something good even in the gardens which you might not have found inspiring as a whole. Here's just a few design snippets and plants which have caught my eye this year.

I'm seriously thinking of dispensing with fiddly little pots and just having large, dramatic bowls like those in Andy Sturgeon's garden. I loved the irises too (contrasting well with the rusty corten steel and such a good change from the usual purple iris seen at Chelsea), but I'll probably go for something longer lasting and more architectural for our garden. I'm thinking of having a couple of large planters on the plinths either side of the central steps leading down from our patio, once we've got rid of the conifers which are currently swamping them and …

King of Chelsea

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Mark Gregory and team deciding the best place to prune a Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' into show garden perfection
Fate dealt me a very kind hand when the seating was decided for the Garden Media Guild Awards lunch last December because I found myself seated next to Mark Gregory. He proved to be delightful company and whilst he was enthusing about the magic of the build at Chelsea, he issued an invitation for me to come along and see for myself. I couldn't believe my luck as this was a dream come true.
Mark wasn't at all fazed when I phoned him a couple of weeks ago to make the final arrangements for my visit despite being in a trench. He also kindly met me at the Garden Gate on the day itself to give me my pass (see left) and Hi Viz jacket - not only necessary requirements for gaining access but also a cunning disguise, allowing me to blend in effortlessly with everyone there - even though he was in the middle of unloading a delivery off a lorry at the time.
I was particu…

Whizzing Around Chelsea

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My favourite show garden (for The Daily Telegraph by Andy Sturgeon) which I picked out during the build and certainly didn't disappoint on the day. It's the judges' favourite too :)

It's a couple of days since I went to Chelsea and like Patient Gardener my head's still in a whirl. There's so much to see and we packed it all into a mere afternoon. I thought my visit during the build would dilute the wow factor of the final reveal, but I needn't have worried. It's a vintage year, so there's even more top quality stuff to talk about and less of the ho hum which can be filtered out straight away. I suspect some of the things I'm bursting to tell you about will remain unsaid because the show will be over soon and hence the moment will pass.

Gardens which showed such promise at the build stage didn't fail to deliver, like Jo Thompson's garden for Thrive in the Urban category (another deserved best in show winner)...

My liking for all things b…

ABC of Weather: Sunshine

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Sunshine is an essential ingredient to make any garden sing, just like it did whilst we (Victoria, Patient Gardener and I) were whizzing around Wisley on Tuesday. Thanks Victoria for kindly taking us there on such a perfect day prior to our afternoon visit to Chelsea Flower Show :)
How's the weather with you today? Hurrah, there's still plenty of sunshine here which has finally brought the Clematis in my back garden into full flower.
Chelsea coverage will resume tomorrow and I'll be telling you more about Wisley shortly.
ABC Wednesday has plenty more in the way of S to show you...

Postcard from Chelsea #2

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Here I am last week at the Garden Gate, the main entrance to Chelsea Flower show. The friendly security guard at the gate took this picture whilst I was waiting for my host to arrive (more about that soon) with my pass and Hi Viz vest.
I'm back at Chelsea today with Patient Gardener plus my friends H and D, and this gate will be so crowded, it'll be almost impossible to repeat this picture!

Postcard from Chelsea #1

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This is a view of an area not accessible to flower show visitors and a reminder that it's hosted by the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home to the Chelsea Pensioners.
As you read this I'm on my way to Victoria's as I'm staying with her (with Patient Gardener) prior to my Chelsea visit tomorrow. Victoria will be fresh back from press day so we'll be getting all the showtime gossip prior to our visit to Rob's shop (aka The Garden Sage) tonight for drinks and nibbles :)

Twitterchat with Nick Hamilton

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Thursday night sees quite a novel idea as Nick Hamilton of Barnsdale Gardens fame will be available on Twitter to answer your gardening questions. When I first heard about it earlier on in the week, I was a bit skeptical as I wondered how sound advice could be distilled down into a mere 140 characters. However, I then remembered just how helpful my Twitter buddies have been in dispensing their own hints and tips whenever anyone Tweets a question into the ether. Besides there's always the possible insertion of pertinent links to back up what's being said.
The opportunity to have your gardening questions answered by a leading expert is still pretty rare unless you manage to catch a recording of Gardeners' Question Time or visit a gardening show. So why not give this a go? Lands' End are hosting Nick's session from 8 to 9pm on Thursday 27th May. All you need to do is: Login to Twitter in the usual way or sign up for Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Follow Lands’ End UK…

Chelsea Sneak Preview #3: Places of Change

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A few days ago Ms B asked the question on Twitter:

Do you really think that designing a garden at Chelsea is of any long term value, other than to your career?

A very good question and I believe this year's Places of Change garden at Chelsea provides the answer. At nearly 600 square metres, it's the largest show garden ever built at Chelsea and involves 450 people; 49 agencies from around the country who work with the homeless, drug abusers or ex-offenders; 8 prisons; and growing 10,000 plants.

This garden builds on the success of last year's Eden Project garden, The Key and has the same core Eden Project team and Paul Stone as the designer. However, much of the design elements have been decided by the groups involved in the project and Paul's job is to ensure these come together into a cohesive whole and at the standard of horticultural and show garden excellence expected by the RHS.

On the Places of Change website Paul says:

Eden has a worldwide philosophy of wanting to m…

Chelsea Sneak Preview #2: Trend Spotting

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Spotting the Chelsea trends is one of the favourite sports of gardening journalist and TV coverage alike, so I'm rather pleased to be ahead of the game this year and reveal some of those I spotted on Monday. Actually, one of the trends this year show garden-wise is their diversity: there's jaw dropping construction, retro through to modern gardens, ones which are practical or making a statement (either as a garden in its own right or as an awareness raising vehicle), traditional or controversial. Putting all of that to one side - here's my pick of the Chelsea pops...

Lush green planting, with a few colour accents. I could have probably predicted this one before I was there owing to our harsh winter last year, but green is most definitely there in spades. That doesn't mean boring though - there's an immense variety: the architectural tropical vegetation of Flemings' (above - who also seem to be digging their way back to Australia), Thomas Hoblyn's and James…

ABC of Weather: Rainbow

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You probably recognise part of this picture at least, because it's the one I use for my blog header. This is the view from our bedroom window one stormy day a few years ago. The rainbow might not be complete, but I like the changing colours in the sky around it. Sadly the silver birch tree it emanates from is no more as it was felled a couple of years ago.

I chose this picture for my blog because I was at a bit of a crossroads when I started it. I'd just decided to make my career break of seven months a more permanent arrangement and on that very same day I also started this blog. The rainbow across a stormy sky was symbolic of the way I felt, but also pointed to all kinds of possibilities. I never dreamed what opportunities might come my way as a result of blogging: this week's trip to see Chelsea behind the scenes is the latest in many amazing and enjoyable times.

The rainbow also points to my choosing to write about anything which takes my interest and fancy. I may concen…

Chelsea Preview #1: Order from Chaos

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I had a marvellous opportunity to visit Chelsea Flower Show during the build yesterday and what a fantastic time I had there.


Suitably booted, suited (i.e. wearing a Hi Viz vest) and sporting an exhibitor build-up pass (how cool!), I was allowed to wander around at my leisure. This aspect of the show has always fascinated me because I like to know how things work, so you can imagine what heaven I was in all afternoon.

The usual crowds of people of the show days were replaced with a continuous stream of lorries making their deliveries to the various show gardens and stands. If there wasn't a lorry following me down Main Avenue, then it was a digger; if it wasn't a digger then a dumper truck full of compost or a vehicle delivering a fully grown tree was bound to be in my wake. All with hazard lights blinking away merrily and beep beeping when reversing their way down the road (which was frequently). All this was orchestrated by the Traffic Management team who ensured the delive…

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #17

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'Land grab' a nearby house with a lovely walled gardenObtain planning permission to tear it down and build 14 'retirement cottages'. However once the site is reduced to rubble, don't start building them because of the 'credit crunch'Start building them 18 months later now things are looking a little better and so in turn ramp up your marketing campaign via the local newspaperWait for a blogger with a camera to notice your mind was probably elsewhere when describing the facilitiesEt voila!Ironically NAH, who loves puns and plays on words, was making jokes about conservatories during the recent election campaign (e.g. conservatory = conserve a Tory = a campaign to preserve an endangered species in Chippenham. NB we returned a Lib Dem MP and Tory is another name for someone who belongs to the Conservative party or is politically inclined that way).

GBBD: Whilst I Was Away...

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I was gone only a few days, but I was quite surprised when I returned from Malvern last weekend to find my garden had transformed itself whilst I was away. It's the time of the year when our gardens are changing at their fastest rate, but I thought the March-like weather would have stopped things in their tracks. My plants are still behind where they usually are, but mother nature is trying to catch up. So, let's have a look at some of the changes in my garden this month...

You'll see from the top picture that my boring fence isn't quite fitting its description at the moment.

It's a basic plant and easy peasy to look after, but I never tire of my Centaurea montana, especially when they've bulked out nicely and started to produce their deep bluey/purple flowers.

At last the final apple tree in my garden has started to blossom. It's a Herefordshire russet and I like the way some of the branches have combined with one of my Clematis obelisks. It's been a very…