RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 — Haarkon Highlights
Last week we were invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to see the Chelsea Flower Show in real life instead of the way that we normally see it (on the tv). Hopefully by now it's clear that we have a thing for greenhouses, and you'd be right to assume that we've also walked through a garden or two to get to our glass-roofed goals. We are a fussy pair when it comes to what we like (and that applies to pretty much everything in life, not just indoor gardens!) but we found plenty at Chelsea.
The M&G show garden made us both incredibly happy. Designed by James Basson and based on the concept of an abandoned Maltese quarry, we found the combination of the heavy limestone lines and the softness of would-be weeds just incredible. With the scorching May sunshine bearing down on our skin we were transported to another world through the view of that garden and we were happy to learn that it won the prestigious Best Show Garden award.
Next on the 'things that blew our minds' list was the Seedlip Garden, categorised as an Artisan garden, meaning that they should show an element of craftsmanship as well as being made from sustainable materials. Seedlip is a growing (no pun intended) drinks brand that has managed to make a truly beguiling product; it's a non-alcoholic spirit that you'd never know was non-alcoholic and it tastes amazing. You have to try it!
The garden design travels through the story of the company; it's roots (sorry - pun intended this time) in apothecary experiments, planted examples of the botanical ingredients and visual references to the technical methods used to distill the spirits. We loved the copper elements and use of colour palette within the planting, which was all kept fairly wild in appearance and worked well for the visiting bees. The heat made us thirsty and we enjoyed a taster of Garden 108 in a special bar that was perched atop Hoe Hill; and we will forever put frozen peas in our drinks... the smell itself was a revelation, never mind the sweet treat at the end of the drink. Pure genius.
The Seedlip Garden was designed by Dr Catharine MacDonald.
Continuing on our sensual journey through the show we turned to one of the Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens, more specifically the Zoe Ball Listening Garden which was designed by James Alexander Sinclair. Once again featuring a russet and green colour palette, the idea exercised here was to turn sound into vision by the awesome power of water. Speakers had been placed underneath the weathered steel vessels that sent vibrations up through the water which were then released in various patterns upon meeting the surface. The result was mesmerising and held our attention for quite a while.
Other things that we liked...
- the attention to detail of Kazuyuki Ishihara's Gosho No Niwa, especially to the back of the display which was covered in beautiful textures of moss, sedum and lush green foliage
- the calming sight of Derbyshire Bonsai's stand inside the Grand Pavilion. Amongst towering Lupins of all colours, David Austin Roses and giant Clematis rivers stood the powerfully quiet miniature trees and we loved them. We particularly liked the smaller 'accent' plants that accompanied the older trees (some of them really were very old!) and perched on the edge of the tables.
Our first RHS show experience was pretty great and we're hoping to see a few more this year if we can, bringing the inspiration home to our own little patio garden - which we might share on here at some point. Maybe.