Highlights of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2018

Model in white dress and flowery hat
Model with flowery hat at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

As we wound around Derbyshire’s beautiful but narrow Peak District roads towards our sneak preview of the Chatsworth Flower Show yesterday, knowing how limestone has shaped the environment, making the ground glitter in places, I thought of one of my favourite poems: W.H. Auden’s ‘In Praise Of Limestone’.

I love the poem’s conversational style, but its abrupt changes of tone and subject matter might not suit everyone. Just as we can only read a poem from within the landscape of our own mind, we can only ever experience a flower show from our own perspective. My idea of tasty flowers and planting schemes might not be yours.

Labrador dog in a show garden at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show
‘The Great Outdoors’ by Phil Hurst won Chatsworth Gold…

This year’s Best in Show award, for example, went to an attractive display with a lot of interesting elements, including the characterful wooden arbour, bench and water feature. Continue reading “Highlights of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2018”

Four Floral Designs From Flower Shows

A floral design with wool, twigs, small leaves and yellow pom poms

Variegated geranium leaves, yellow pompons, wool swizzles and twigs make up one of my favourite designs I’ve seen at a flower show. Yes, it’s tiny and the florist hasn’t spent a fortune on flowers, but it wows me with its colours, poise and confidence.

The judges’ card noted some fault or other – from memory, it lacked flowers or content. I could quote a poem that is equally brief and perfect, but I’ll forbear. The brief might have been ‘Pack ‘Em In’, for all I know, in which case, this would have been highly commended:

Dish of flower buds and orchids for a wedding

Ivory, pink and hints of green lift a white floral centrepiece that would be perfect for a traditional summer wedding. Orchids, rosebuds, peony buds, chrysanthemums and lisianthus feature, with tiny sprigs of gypsophila and hebe, at a guess. I think the clusters of flowers and tiny green buds are Kalanchoe ‘Calandiva White’. Silver-grey mohair yarn trails delicately over. I enjoy the expertise shown here: the ability to create such an even height and the tapestry effect that prevents open ‘black holes’ that can appear when floral designs are photographed.  Continue reading “Four Floral Designs From Flower Shows”

Rose Bloom With Raindrops (And Did I Meet A Queen?)

Rose bloom with raindrops

I’ve hesitated to share this picture of a rose, even though it’s one of my favourites. The colour, though attractive, is not typical, which is why I’ve not provided the variety name on the picture file. It may seem like a harsh assessment of a flower, but this one is too apricot. This variety is supposed to be pink, though admittedly with a good hint of apricot. This one is apricot with the merest touch of pink.

I would hope most people are at this point thinking – ‘Why on earth would anyone prevaricate about whether a rose is pink, apricot or somewhere in the middle? It’s a very nice looking rose. I’d be happy to have it in my garden. Just let it be’. Quite. But for many gardeners (and brides), the shade does matter. They want a white rose to be white, not cream, and a red rose to be red, not pink. Simples, as the meerkats would say. Continue reading “Rose Bloom With Raindrops (And Did I Meet A Queen?)”

Summer gardens from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show: Final5 Retreat Garden

Final5 Retreat Garden

The small show gardens are a great way to see how plots of land diverge when each is dressed in carefully chosen colours, features and accessories to create a designer’s idea of gardening heaven.

I’ve only recently arrived back in the UK and this year’s show is all over but for the shouting. Undeterred, I’m determined to get into the spirit by giving a shout out to the Final5 Retreat Garden from last year. If you’re concerned that these pictures are old hat now, as styles have moved on to quarries and such-like in 2017, I won’t be hurt if you give this a miss and search The Reader for Hampton Court Flower Show instead. But if you’re still with me, here goes!   Continue reading “Summer gardens from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show: Final5 Retreat Garden”

It’s Chelsea Flower Show Time Again!

The Arthritis Research UK Garden

Though I’ll not be able to visit the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show, my thoughts always swing back to it at this time of year. This is a glimpse into one of my favourite gardens from a few years ago: The Arthritis Research UK Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw and Keith Chapman Landscapes.

I love mixed, herbaceous borders – especially twin ones like these that echo each other, pulling the eye in all directions until all but the most disciplined visitors start to flit from one plant to another like large bees, unsure which nectar they should sample next.  Continue reading “It’s Chelsea Flower Show Time Again!”

The Healing Urban Garden

Healing Urban Garden, Hampton Court

I’ve been meaning to share this picture of the HUG (the Healing Urban Garden) designed by Rae Wilkinson for the Hampton Court Flower Show. The garden looks much more open viewed from the front, but from this angle, it’s easier to see the style of the planting, which is densely packed and surprisingly linear. That’s the part of the garden that fascinates me.

It’s an interesting, textural effect, reminding me of the rows commonly used in crop gardens, such as cutting gardens or kitchen gardens. I wonder if for some people, the sense of order and rhythm underpinning the design makes it more relaxing? If asked beforehand, I’d have said I preferred plants to mingle together naturally, but something in my pattern-loving nature responds to the technique, especially as it’s not rigidly applied.

The plants included lots of aromatic perennials and healing herbs, such as lavender, artemisia, thyme, stachys, rosemary, salvia, allium, eryngium and nepeta. The calming, subtle colour palette of silver, blue and green was lifted by purple, the bronzy foliage of head-high, multi-stemmed trees and lavender, the latter carried through to the walls and accessories.  Continue reading “The Healing Urban Garden”

The Bruntwood Field Office at the Tatton Park Flower Show

Bruntwood Field Office: Reception

I’m happy that my own path so often takes me past flowers and into gardens. These well trodden paths were part of Bruntwood’s witty, eco-friendly installation at the Tatton Park Flower Show. This thoughtful, quirky space made great use of recycled material. I loved the kissing gate, bike park and the unstuffy board room.  Continue reading “The Bruntwood Field Office at the Tatton Park Flower Show”