The day has come.
After more than a year of planning, the most prestigious gardening event of the year has finally opened its doors. The show isn’t yet open to the public, but I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview!
Being in the showground at 7am on Press Day has really allowed me to get up close and personal with each of the gardens and, more excitingly, many of the highly polished plants that clothe each impressive nursery stand in the floral marquee! Naturally, I firstly made a beeline for our Chelsea Plant of the Year 2013 hopeful, Nasturtium ‘Fruit Salad’. Despite a difficult, and changeable, few weeks of weather, we’ve managed to get this safely into flower, and it’s looking pretty darned good! The nice, bushy plants are literally covered in the highly unique, bicolour, serrated blooms – it’s like no other nasturtium you’ve ever seen before. It has a fragrance too, and the warmer it is, the more spicy it becomes! The results will be announced later today, so keep your fingers crossed for us. I must admit I’m a bit nervous about a particularly pretty clematis though, so it seems we have stiff competition this year.
Each year, there are always plenty of ‘buzz’ plants – plants that just sparkle – whether they’re in the floral marquee or as part of a planting. So far, and it’s only 11am, so I may well discover more, I’m really feeling hardy geraniums. One of my favourite plantings is on the Laurent-Perrier garden, where white and blue hardy geraniums create a bank of colour, underplanted with creeping cornus and, further along, a low-growing weigelia. The colours are also very soft and serene, a stark contrast to the vivid pinks of a corner of the Hillier garden in the floral marquee. This garden is named the ‘Risk Garden’ and is designed with the intention of showing how you have to take chances in the plants you choose, jazz up your garden and decorate it as you would a room indoors. Be brave!
Chelsea Flower Show really brings together the best of UK horticulture; all in one marquee, the cream of the crop congregate with their phenomenal expertise and plant knowledge, which reflect their skill. Kevock Garden, from outside Edinburgh has 2 wow plants for me – Primula Moonshine, a shimmering black, nodding primula, and what must be the most photographed bloom, Meconopsis puniceus.
Well, I hope that gives you a brief taster of the first day, I’ll be sure to scribble down some more notes later today. But now, I’ve got more plant hunting to do!
Here are some more highlights in pictures…