Chelsea 2015 has already been and gone, I can’t believe it is a year since I was last there. I visited again before the show opened, this time on the Sunday before press day so although everything wasn’t completely finished it was almost there. It’s great to be able to visit when there are no crowds flocking around the gardens obscuring the view and to have a chat with the designers when all the hard work is over and there is a sense of anticipation about what medal day brings their way. Last year I found it a lot easier to guess the golds and best in show, however this year there wasn’t a stand out favourite for best in show. I had my favourite which was the L’Occitane garden but I couldn’t see this being the judges’ favourite, They, of course, went for Dan Pearson’s garden which I can appreciate, but I think only fully given time to move around the garden and investigate it in greater depth, as the judges’ are able, would this become apparent. My first impression was of a piece of landscape brought to a show and it was easy to pass it by thinking it was part of the Chelsea grounds, is this a good or bad thing? Everyone had something to say about it and that’s what shows are about, a great diversity of styles each appealing to different people.
For me the L’Occitane garden stood out because it felt like a real garden and not a piece of Chelsea theatre. Many of the gardens look like stage sets and seem unreal and unattainable but this garden seemed to have some soul and really gave a sense of a hot garden in Provence and it also dared to be different with the choice of plants.
One thing all the gardens share in common is a great deal of dedication, hard work, blood, sweat and tears and the addiction that is the show garden world keeps these great events alive. It is easy for us all to have our say about what we think is good or not so good but whatever our opinions we should appreciate the efforts by all those involved.
This year I found more interest in the planting combinations, rather than the overall designs and had a jolly good meander around the great pavilion to soak up the colours and scents on offer. The gardens displayed many Chelsea favourites such as alliums, lupins, geum, salvia, digitalis and plenty of trimmed hedging. The colours were purple, pink and blue with pops of orange and there seemed to be a bit more substance to the planting this year which last year seemed a little wispy and frothy without much backbone.
The way time is flying at the moment it won’t be long until Chelsea 2016, no doubt I’ll be there having a nosy round and I look forward to seeing something inspiring and original (and lunch after again at Claridge’s……please!)