RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010
Chelsea flower show is the Daddy of all flower shows, attracting thousands of visitors each year into a comparatively tiny 11 acre plot. So what is it that they're all flocking to see?
Being the most prestigious of all flower shows, people throng to the show in their thousands from all corners of the globe making any day at Chelsea a buzzing and happening affair. A visit to Chelsea will certainly be memorable and if you can manage to fight your way through the masses, you may even get a few glimpses of some rather stunning gardens and assorted horticultural displays.
Such is the power of Chelsea that it attracts celebrities like bees to a honey pot. On press day, the Monday before the show officially opens to the public, the RHS even hand out a sheet of A4 paper to all visiting press with 3 columns of celebrities listed. It's a bit like playing I-Spy and probably distracting a bit from the real reason of attending; the plants and gardens.
That being said, this year I managed to spot Ringo Starr, Jayne Torvill, Christopher Biggins, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Moira Stuart, Jon Snow, John Sergeant, Nick Knowles, Rob Brydon, Linda Barker, Floella Benjamin and David Bellamy.
On ShowSo, what was the flower show actually like, apart from the celebrity spotting?
Show GardensThe large show gardens were impressive as you'd expect, and I think a distinct improvement over last year's crop, which was also recognised by their respective medal count this year. The gardens seemed to have a more natural and quintessentially British feel to them than in previous years, with the show garden winning the best in show being The Daily Telegraph garden; certainly deserving of this accolade.
Personally, I tend to prefer the Courtyard and Urban gardens as these are more in keeping with the size of garden that your average mortal would own. Having said that, the £20M "Ace of Diamonds" was purely and simply an exercise in Egotistical Masturbation by the designer David Domoney, with no resemblance to an actual garden; probably why he only got a bronze medal!
The other garden that let these usually wonderful small gardens down was the "Lights and Colours of the Alps". Not as egotistical as Domoney's, but equal modern mayhem, again only achieving a Bronze medal.
The take away message is that traditional, classical British gardens are what people (and the judges) enjoy, which is why Andy Sturgeon did so well with the Daily Telegraph garden and deservedly so.
ShoppingAs always at shows such as this, there are the usual array of stalls selling everything you could imagine, but being Chelsea, expect grander and more exclusive offerings.
Flower DisplaysThe flower marquee was very impressive and is always a welcomed place to shelter and take refuge from the British weather, although bizarrely enough the weather to shelter from this year was the blazing sun rather than the usual assorted precipitation.
In SummaryI much preferred this year's Chelsea show to last year's. The large show gardens were consistently wonderful, making it actually rather difficult to pick a favourite. The array of smaller gardens were also very good, although maybe a little weaker across the board compared to their larger cousins and let down by 2 moments of modern madness.
If you're thinking of attending this year's show, then I can highly recommend it, although I appreciate that not all of us are fortunate enough/unfortunate enough (delete as deemed applicable) to live in the capital and getting to London can be a bit of a mission, so you could find yourself a cheap hotel to take some of the stress out of the event and make a special occasion of it. Where to stay in London is really your own decision, as there is so much to choose from. However you choose to organise your visit though, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
If you'd like to see some of the delights on show at Chelsea, a selection of this year's gardens have been added to our photo gallery of show gardens.
For more information see:
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010