Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – The Dream Ticket

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Generally speaking I am not the kind of person who wins lotteries or ballots. I don’t even come out of tombolas or raffles particularly favourably. I am the man that walks away with the cider vinegar or the oversized tea cosy fashioned from yarn that looks like it would induce an electric shock. But today fortune was smiling on me as, for the very first time, I managed to get my hands on that most precious of prizes, a Chelsea Flower Show Press Pass. Rather like turning left on a plane, once you’ve experienced preview day at Chelsea it is hard to go back. There are film crews, photographers, hacks and celebrities galore, but compensating for that is the space and time to take in one of the greatest celebrations of horticulture on the planet. It was as if all my birthdays had come at once. Of course I will be back tomorrow for the first member’s day, but the experience will feel decidedly ‘economy’ compared to today, even though I only had a couple of hours to spare and an iPhone in my pocket.

Despite the inclement weather (high winds and drenching showers), most of the show gardens on Main Avenue were holding up well. I felt for the designers of the Hidden Beauty of Kranji garden who had bravely bedded out orchids beneath palm trees almost bent double by the gale. My highest hopes were for Dan Pearson’s Laurent Perrier garden, but, exceptional as it was, I am not sure it’s a shoe-in for Best in Show. So skilled is the garden’s execution that it appears to have been torn straight from the Derbyshire countryside and pasted into the grounds of the Royal Hospital. It is wild and authentic, but is it a Chelsea garden? We’ll know what the RHS judges think first thing tomorrow morning. If the accolade does not go Dan’s way, My top tips for the big prize would be The Retreat, designed by Jo Thompson for sponsors M&G investments, and Matt Keightley’s Hope in Vulnerability garden for Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale. Jo Thompson has created an archetypal English garden (above), with a contemporary twist. Matt’s design (below), inspired by the Mamohato Children’s centre in Lesotho, made my heart sing with it’s colourful planting and warm, friendly atmosphere: if not the top honour it deserves serious recognition.


Given my rare good luck, I think it’s only fair to share with you the highlights of my afternoon at Chelsea. Whether you are visiting, watching the TV coverage or admiring from afar, I do hope you enjoy the show. Check back throughout the week for more pictures, analysis and my top 10 Chelsea plants for 2015.




Categories: Bulbs, Chelsea flower show, Flower Shows, Flowers, Foliage, Garden Design, Landscape Design, Planting Design, Small Gardens, Tropical Gardens

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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29 comments On "Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – The Dream Ticket"

  1. Wow, wow, wow! I am so envious. Lucky you. Fantastic to see your lovely photos. I have been following developments avidly but here are the finished products and it’s great to hear your thoughts. How would you feel about me putting some of your photos up on my website (with credit to you on each one and then a link to your blog?). I’m sure the Aussies would love them, too!

  2. ENVY ENVY ENVY…. and yes the Aussies will love the pictures…..Dan you must have been thrilled to get that press pass, Loving that last pic…and those devine trugs…. Have a super super time. H

    1. Thanks Helen. It really wasn’t the same without you. I felt a bit lonely compared to last year, and you would have loved the Laurent Perrier VIP area and private view. I am looking forward to Hampton Court even more now 🙂

  3. Wow, what a great tour! In 1994 my dad visited England and brought back a souvenir for me: the 1994 Chelsea Flower Show plate which that year was made by Minton and is called ‘Chelsea Springtime’. I treasure it not only because it is beautiful but because it turned out to be the last vacation that he took; he died suddenly of a heart attack a few months later.

    1. I am really sorry to hear that, but how lovely that he got to visit Chelsea, enjoy it, and bring back a beautiful souvenir. Minton has always been the most quintessentially English of brands – I dread to think who is in charge of its fortunes now. I hope you will visit Chelsea one day.

  4. Well deserved! As usual your photos are well observed, which sounds poncy but I mean you have an eye for the shot, colour and form and all that, well poncy stuff. Beautiful. if I had known I would have kept a look out for you on the television. Were you one of the synchronised swimmers? 😉

    1. I saw them at Sloane Square tube yesterday, still with their hats on! Fabulous. I might be in shot tonight when the crazy Japanese designer gets his gold. He was literally jumping for joy!

  5. Lucky you! I am off there tomorrow and so I haven’t looked at the photos, just read your text….can’t wait. I have the same feeling about Dan Pearsons garden…just from the tv coverage, but am so looking forward to it.

    1. I hope you are blessed with slightly better weather. We are experiencing some sharp showers! Dan Pearson won Best in Show and it’s well deserved for the artistry and detail that went into the production. Enjoy your day!

  6. Oh wow! What a lovely post and a fantastic chance you had! You used it to it’s full potential! Thank you for sharing it with us! I love ‘The Retreat’ I could do with being in that garden today! I also admire the beautiful Old Forge, I saw it on TV last night and the planting is so natural – just as if nature really had reclaimed it back! Were the Iris’s from Claire Austin’s stand? I love Iris’s – they are so pretty! Thank you once again for sharing and I hope you enjoy your day today! 🙂

    1. You are very good. Yes, the iris was from Claire Austen. There were irises everywhere I looked this year and very beautiful they were too. More on them in a post very soon I hope. The Retreat was lovely, and we all needed shelter from the rain today!

  7. Oh my goodness! There are so many fantastic gardens this year, that I actually like! Sometimes they just don’t speak to me, but wow. They have also inspired me to import a trug for myself for Christmas this year.

  8. Wow, a press pass and your photos look pretty good — I would never have guessed that you took them with a phone. Thanks so much for sharing this look at Chelsea with those of us who have never made it over there for the big show! -Beth

    1. I think everyone should go once in a lifetime. It’s an experience! I had a super day today and am happy to report that the British love of gardens and gardening is alive and kicking. I got my medal predictions wrong, but orange and yellow were the colours of the moment. Next year pink. You heard it here first!

    1. I hope there will be better to come tomorrow Judy! I have been at Chelsea for 12 hours today and had a marvellous time, in spite of 2 thunder storms and copious rain. I will sleep well!

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