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Chelsea Charms

Chelsea Charms
Posted on 25/05/09 | Posted by The Fat Gardener

If the rest of the world is in financial meltdown, then the horticultural world hasn’t heard! This year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show may have had fewer £¼ million gardens, but was none the poorer for it.

This year’s ‘Best Show Garden’ winner was The Daily Telegraph garden designed by Ulf Nordfjell. With a dark framed timber and glass building and big, rough cut granite slabs, this garden is a modern Swedish interpretation of the traditional cottage garden. The garden is stocked with Irises, Violas, Salvias, Harebells (Campanula) and tall, white spikes of Eremurus. Trees include multi-stemmed Pinus, silver-grey Pyrus and the obligatory pleached hornbeams surround the garden and offer privacy. This is a strong, unique garden deserving of its gold medal. However, it reminds me a little of a Saab motor car; esoteric, edgy design, well built, with quirky features, but perhaps trying to be just a little too ‘cool’.

My favourite at the show was the gold medal winning über relaxed Champagne Laurent-Perrier garden by Chelsea newcomer Luciano Giubbilei. This man designs gardens that look serene, but actually need huge amounts of effort to achieve the tranquil style. The structure of the garden is provided by box headed hornbeams (again!) and tiered hedges of hornbeam, yew and box along with a decorated limestone wall and water features. Box surrounded beds are filled with and edged in Alliums, Aquilegias, Astrantias, Salvias, Peonies and no less than five types of Iris. The water falls gently from square gutters and disappears between gaps in the paving beneath giving the garden a calm, laid-back atmosphere.

Other gardens worthy of special mention were the Perfume garden by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins who apart from collecting a wonderful group of scented plants included one of the best structures seen at Chelsea for years; part lava lamp, part stainless steel spaceship and part wind turbine. I also loved the stylish timber wave forms that undulate through F & C’s silver medal winning wetland garden designed by Thomas Hoblyn. The Children’s Society Garden designed by Mark Gregory must feature in this blog for his practical rotary dryer cunningly hidden in the wall of the garden room – a justifiable gold for sense of humour!

Finally, this year’s Chelsea Flower Show could not be written about without mention of the James May Paradise in Plasticine ‘garden’. I have no particular opinion on giving space to this kind of exhibit and indeed it received an RHS ‘Special Letter’ (whatever that is) and a fitting plasticine medal!

With all the economic tales of doom, gardening seems to continue to bring happiness and positivity into many lives – I don’t know this for sure, but all I saw at Chelsea were sunshine and smiles!

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