Stop, Sit and Smell the Flowers!

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.

Pretty Pink

Gentle Foxgloves

Foxglove Forest

Whites and Purples

Digitalis purpurea `Excelsior'

Gentle Height












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.

VerbascumSharp Green

Pimpinella major RoseaAllium let loose







Totally Tangerine (and yellow!)







Wild at HeartRusty HuesAntirrhinum majus ScrophulariaceaePedal PowerStatement Dahlia

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!

PinkyStop, Sit and Smell the Flowers!

Queen of Sweden


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.

White and GreenDigitalis purpurea f.albaThe White Garden

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.

London Square


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’.

Pink VerbascumHillier Bee GardenQuiet Corner

I’d love to potter about in that garden with a selection of these Garden Girl Accessories!

Gardening Kit fit for a Lady

Pink, Pink and More Pink! 

Pretty Seating

Aquilegia vulgaris Altrosa

Delightful Dahlia


Delightful Dahlias

Kelways’ Peonies 

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.

Coral SunsetKelways BeautyRenown Tree Peony


Renown - Saunders Hybrid Tree Peony
Renown – Saunders Hybrid Tree Peony

Renown Peony has delectable blooms of a unique copper strawberry colour.  



Garden Treasure - Intersectional Peony
Garden Treasure – Intersectional Peony

 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 (Ausursula)
The Lark Ascending (Ausursula)

The Lark AscendingThe Lark AscendingThe Lark Ascending

`The Lark Ascending’ is a beautiful semi-double cup shaped apricot rose grown by David Austin.

The Poet's Wife
The Poet’s Wife ( Auswhisper)

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
Graham Thomas (Ausmas)

Graham Thomas is a short climber in a rich pure yellow colour. It has a fresh tea-rose fragrance.

The Lady Gardener (Ausbrass)
The Lady Gardener (Ausbrass)

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.

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn (Ausecret)
Queen of Sweden
Queen of Sweden (Austiger)
Persian Mystery (Harkness)
Persian Mystery (Harkness)

Persian Mystery is an unusual rose in that it has a contrasting deep coloured centre compared to the outer paler pink petals.

Olivia Rose Austin
Olivia Rose Austin (Ausmixture)
Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten (Ausencart)

English RoseJune RosePinkyStop and Smell the RosesPink roses


Chandos Beauty (Harkness)

Chandos Beauty (Harkness)
Chandos Beauty (Harkness)

Chandos Beauty

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 - Harkness
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.

Tea and Roses

Rose BouquetFreshly Picked RosesElegant Tea

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!




2 Comments on Taking Time Out to Smell the Roses!

  1. Susan Leishman
    10th June 2014 at 5:15 am (5 years ago)

    Hi Patsy. Just enjoyed looking at your fabulous photos. I too was at Chelsea and it did feel more busy than usual. I wish I’d seen the foxgloves but I always manage to miss something. Thanks for posting the photos. I hope you are still feeling “revived”. I went through a similar experience with a friend not so long ago. Your finished floral bouquet is gorgeous.
    Susan (WOW)

    • Patsy Smiles
      10th June 2014 at 7:29 pm (5 years ago)

      Dear Susan

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write a personal message. Shame we didn’t bump into each other at Chelsea! Which were your favourite flowers?

      Glad you liked my finished Memory Lane Bouquet I posted on the Watercolours with Wow Website. I am about to start a simpler painting of one of my favourite roses – `Teaclipper’, an apricot coloured English Rose from David Austin. I bought this rose after we came back from honeymoon to the tea-picking district of Sri Lanka 3 years ago and the rose is blooming magnificently this year. I am enjoying a little bit of Chelsea enjoying the roses in my garden at the moment.

      Patsy x


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *