Chelsea Flower Show 2014
RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the highlights of my year and this year was no exception. Chelsea 2014 fell in the middle of a very difficult week for me as a close relative was in the process of being diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get up to London as I was staying in Dorset. However I made the decision I needed to go for my own well-being. So after a 3 hour train journey I finally arrived. This year was a different experience for me. I largely ignored the fancy, show gardens with their sophisticated high-falluting ideas. Normally I would pay more attention to them and would come back with a few ideas of my own. However this year I got irritated by the crowds of people trying to catch a glimpse of the Show Gardens and engage the designers in conversation whilst I was being `gently’ pushed out of the way. My garden is never going to be a `Show Garden’ with sleek lines and abstract concepts. What I want in a garden is an oasis of calm, a cottage garden full of pretty flowers spilling over in abundance. I want to create a lovely spot where I can take time to smell the roses away from the stresses of day to day life. Chelsea was good for me. I spent most of my day in the Great Pavillion `a horticultural haven of stunning floral displays’. I simply decided to let the beauty and the wonderful aroma of the flowers do my soul good and it did! So many times I found that I stopped and took time to drink in the smell and the exquisite beauty of the flowers and the whole Chelsea Experience became very restorative! I am therefore going to make no apologies for simply sharing the photos I took of beautiful flowers. I hope they do you good too!
One of the things I loved about Chelsea this year is that there was a lot of naturalistic, cottage garden displays. I particularly liked the stately foxgloves in hues of pink, purple and white.
Apart from colour schemes of pinks and purples I saw a lot of naturalistic planting using vibrant yellow and orange and rusty hues. I liked Geum `Totally Tangerine’ so much I bought this wonderful plant when I got home. I already have a few verbascum which are more delicate in appearance than foxgloves but equally wonderful.
One of the Exhibits I adored was the inspirational Hillier Nursery Display, simply because it was my kind of garden. I sat down in the midst of the bustle of the Grand Pavillion on a bench with 2 ladies on a trip from the USA. We had a lovely chat and I managed to help them with the settings on their camera. This is what good garden design is all about – providing an oasis of calm amongst all the bustle. Lovely!
Hillier Nurseries Display had several different styles of garden. Of course I loved the Hillier Rose Garden. This really did show how a small garden space can be transformed into a fragrant oasis; a lovely spot to sit and enjoy the fragrance of the flowers. Although I couldn’t sit on the bench I would have loved to sit there and enjoy a glass of pink lemonade!
The Hillier White Garden is reminiscent of Sissinghurst with it’s green and white planting scheme. I actually agree with the concept behind the planting. The aim was to create a green and white planting scheme which was cool and calming and a relief from the activity all around. It works! The garden looked cool, relaxing and a thoroughly nice place to be.
This elegant white planting scheme was echoed in Jo Thompson’s London Square Garden. A unique bench was a work of art in itself surrounded by white and green plants including Rose `Macmillan Nurse’ which has wonderful old-fashioned cupped flowers of a pale creamy yellow with a double centre.
The Hillier Bee Garden was so pretty, although I’m not sure I want to have a beehive in our garden! Actually one of our bird boxes seems to have been taken over by quite a few bees this year. The Bee Garden struck me as a nice place to potter with it’s pretty pastel Summer colours. Planting included pots and containers and plants which are particularly bee friendly such as Philadelphus `Belle Etoile’.
I’d love to potter about in that garden with a selection of these Garden Girl Accessories!
Pink, Pink and More Pink!
I can’t decide if my absolutely most favourite flowers are roses or peonies. In some ways they are similar – really girly,flouncy frilly blooms which are short-lived but so worth the wait! There are different ways of classifying peonies:-
The June-flowering varieties of P.lactiflora or Chinese peonies.
The herbaceous species. These flower in May or earlier.
Varieties of P.suffruticosa, the shrubby or tree peony.
Tree peonies are slower growing, but can grow up to 10 feet. They do not die back into the ground in Winter. The flowers of herbaceous garden peonies tend to be smaller than tree peonies at 3 to 4 inches across. Tree peonies can produce flowers up to 12 inches. An intersectional hybrid peony is a cross between the tree and herbaceous peony. The flowers look like a tree peony but the stems die back. I have recently bought Coral Sunset, a herbaceous variety and an unnamed pink tree peony. Both are yet to flower but I am hoping for great things next year. I fell in love with Coral Sunset at Chelsea Flower Show last year.
Renown Peony has delectable blooms of a unique copper strawberry colour.
Garden Treasure is a semi double with bright yellow flowers and scarlet flares. This cultivar has a particularly long flowering season because the flowers do not develop all at the same time.
Stop and Smell the Roses
I was in Heaven, as not only were there beautiful peonies in the Garden Pavillion, but also a plethora of roses. I spent a long time enjoying both the David Austin Rose Stand and the Harkness Exhibit. There were also outstanding roses dotted throughout the Show. I currently have just under 20 different roses in my garden and I know them all by name! I’m not sure Mr Smiles thinks there is any more room for any more roses in our garden, however I’m sure one more won’t hurt! Which one would you choose?!
The Lark Ascending
`The Lark Ascending’ is a beautiful semi-double cup shaped apricot rose grown by David Austin.
The Poet’s Wife David Austin English Rose has flowers of a strong unfading yellow colour. It is an ideal rose for the front of the border.
Graham Thomas is a short climber in a rich pure yellow colour. It has a fresh tea-rose fragrance.
The Lady Gardener has large rich apricot coloured flowers. The colour pales towards the outside of the bloom. The flowers are of a rosette shape and very full petalled. It repeat flowers quickly and stands up well to rain.
Persian Mystery is an unusual rose in that it has a contrasting deep coloured centre compared to the outer paler pink petals.
Chandos Beauty (Harkness)
Chandos Beauty is THE rose I would like to buy this year. It has a very delicate pale peach colour, although it was the scent that I adored. Chandos Beauty has an absolutely exquisite fragrance. This was the rose which stopped me in my tracks and made me `Stop and Smell the Roses’! Absolutely lovely!
Jacqueline du Pre (Harkness)
Jacqueline du Pre couldn’t match Chandos Beauty for fragrance. However I liked the unusual striking flower centre.
I just loved the David Austin Cut Rose Collection arranged in a beautiful afternoon tea setting showing off their English Rose Bone China.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014’s blooms as much as I did. I thoroughly recommend taking time out to smell the roses this month. It has already been good for my soul!