The big 100th Year of RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Much was made of the fact that this was the 100th Year for the world famous flower show so expectations were very high. But was all as fabulous as it was billed?
M& G Centenary Garden 'Windows Through Time by Roger Platts
For me and a number of others that I spoke to on Press Day the overwhelming feeling was rather depressing overall - hardly the fabulous celebration that was hoped for.
OK I accept that there were some critical factors here - namely the weather - how anyone managed to get any plants to be at their best after the spring we have endured is, in itself, incredible.
The weather on the day was also pretty gloomy which perhaps did nothing to lift that rather depressing feeling that the show overall left you with. Some seasoned visitors that I spoke to barley lasted a couple of hours before leaving. So what really went so wrong?
I understand also that some exhibitors pulled out at the last minute, which must have been a nightmare for the organisers to cope with, preferring to not exhibit as they were maybe laying off staff or making other cutbacks - a sure sign that the country is not really on the road to a recovery just yet.
Chris Beardshaw on his garden for Arthrits Research UK
That said there were a few gems to be found! I spoke to Chris Beardshaw about his revelation that he had suffered from Arthritis from an early age and how it had affected him and his aspirations for the future. HE had clearly come to terms with it and had expressed the sentiments well in a garden showing the progression of his freedom from living with the disease with the use of the latest drugs.
Arthritis Research Garden
A favourite garden of mine was Professor Nigel Dunnett's garden - again the message is powerful here regarding urban greening.
RBC Blue Water Roof Garden by Nigel Dunnett
This garden attracted the attention of botanist and broadcaster David Bellamy
David Bellamy talking to Nigel Dunnett
Jo Thompson's garden Stop the Spread also relayed a powerful message in the rather stark image of a small oak sappling on a small island surrounded by dark still water - a reminder of our own insular vulnerability against the onslaught of incoming plant diseases
Stop the Spread by Jo Thompson
There were also some more uplifting and altogether brighter themes even if the lighting didn't perhaps do the justice!
East Village Garden
Having enjoyed the Olympic Park last year its good to see that the area that was the athletes vilage is also up for some great landscaping ideas.
Another regeneration project for Stoke also caught my eye.
Stoke-on-Trent's story of Transformation
Quite a lot going on here but the overall impact was good.
Another garden with hope for the future was the Homebase Garden in Association with Alzheimer's Society - Sowing the Seeds of Change - taking the edible garden idea a stage further in helping children understand where food comes from.
Sowing the Seeds of Change
Whlst the gardens all demand a hige amount of effort to create the overall impression was that everyone had played pretty safe when it came to the design - perhaps a bit formulaic in their presentation as though they were afraid of innovation and cutting edge ideas.
The gardens of the Daily Telegraph, Lauranet-Perrier & Brewin Dolphin perhaps epitomised this - pleasing to look at and no doubt well designed but have we seen the before?
The Daily Telegraph Garden - perhaps the gloomiest of the all?
Laurent-Perrier - frothy as ever!
Brewin Dolphin Garden
Some of the more quirky show gardens included The Wasteland and The SeeAbility Garden
The Wasteland - loving the Bath Chair!
The SeeAbility Garden - as I was at this garden someone quipped that whilst it was cold wasn't it a bit early for Christmas Decorations! Oh well they tried to brighten things up!
Did you go to Chelsea this year or watch coverage on TV? What were your impressions? Did you feel that it was a fantastic celebration of 100 years of the show or did you feel somewaht let down - do share your views...
There will be more articles to follow on some of the other aspects of Chelsea.