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Chelsea Thoughts

Posted May 20 2011 12:00am
The 2011 RHS Chelsea flower show is only four days away now.I have had a few emails about some of the gardens that will be on show.There will be four types of gardens. Show,urban, Artisan, and generation.There are thirty four very different gardens for people to admire at the show.There will be a packed floral great pavilion where plant sellers will display their wears, and unveil their new plants, picked to be unveiled to the world.A large selection of shopping,dining, drinking,and socialising will also be done.The 157,000 tickets sold out within days of being released.I will have to watch the coverage on the BBC, and follow it on twitter.
I never realised how much work goes into the gardens from planning, being accepted by the RHS, to sourcing hard materials and plants from all over Britain and beyond.Then arriving weeks before to build your garden from a marked out area.I have been following some of the designers through their tweets and photos.
The grounds of the Chelsea hospital grounds are turned into the horticultural highlight of the year, and the start to the party season.Chelsea is still world famous, and very exclusive.A gold medal here for a designer is priceless.
This is garden design on a competitive scale.People can admire the beautiful gardens that look like they have been there for ever, when in fact they may be a few weeks old.They can take the ideas back home with them, and on the final Sunday you can buy part of your favourite garden if you are lucky.
The designers work hard for 18 months for a garden that will be judged to strict criteria on one day, then admired by the visitors and around the world.
Chelsea is an amalgamation of gardening and art.The briefs the designers submit are very ethereal and touchy feely.I like seeing the finished garden and whether it looks like the artists impressions.To make it tougher this year we had a freezing winter, followed by a dry hot spell that has destroyed many early flowering plants.They will have to think on their feet about whether to substitute their plants and whether it will detract from their designs.The triumphs and disasters are part of the drama and magic of Chelsea.Some gardens look poor compared to the picture, whereas some look much better when planted and built for real.

The first garden impression is the Royal Melbourne Australian Botanic Garden, designed by Jim Fogarty.It shows the story of water flowing from the arid Australian outback to the Urbanised coast.It will feature red sand from the deserts, bubbling water, and over 2000 native Australian plants, including rarity's like Albany Woolybush, Hybrid Kangaroo Paws, and Grevillea Forinda.These three plants are worth seeing for their novelty.I wander if they managed to bi pass customs to import all those Aussie plants?


The second garden I am intrigued by is the Royal National Institute For The Blind (RNIB) which will feature a sensory garden designed by Paul Harvey Brooks.This was inspired by a school; the RNIB Pears centre for specialist learning where children with visual problems, and other complex needs go to.It will focus a variety of natural textures, through the garden.The planting will contrast colours and textures and make people want to kick their shoes off.Maybe grasses or soft Chamomile lawn?The picture is teasing but does not show too much. This garden will be relocated after Chelsea to the centre that inspired the design.There are a few gardens with the sensory garden tag so I will see which are the best.




The last garden that intrigued me is the Fever Tree garden.This was designed by Stephen Hall, and was inspired by a drinks company that sources high quality materials for their mixers drinks.The lovely poetically named tree Cinchona Calisaya or Ledgeriana has been used for the manufacture of Quinine, used for treatment for Malaria, and as an ingredient for their tonic water drinks.There will be a Treehouse made from reclaimed wood from the Legeriana Tree, and surrounded by plants like Ginger, Citrus,Lemon Thyme, and Rosemary.There will also be plants traditionally used for treating fevers.The founders of Fever Tree travelled to the Congo to find the last remaining plantation of Ledgerianas and started using the bark for their drinks.The email I got said the reclaimed wood had been impounded by HM Customs officials.I hope they release it for the flower show.

Other Gardens that look inspiring are a Korean Garden by Jihae Hwang inspired by going to the toilet!

Diarmuid Gavins Irish Sky garden will be amazing, the biggest garden ever built at Chelsea, and a show stopper I think.Maybe gold for the rebellious one?

Jamie Dunstan's garden is sponsored by a Wakefield drilling company, and combines gardening and industrial recycling.The items used include a Victorian safe, a prison door, and a series of fans.I wander how this will all work in the context of a garden.

The B&Q garden (by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins) has the tallest structure ever constructed for Chelsea and is related to their themes of vertical gardening and fruit and vegetable growing for every one.

James Wong and David Cubero are doing another Malaysian themed garden this year.Expect water and lush planting!

The British Heart foundations garden has lovely big red blood cells in its garden as steps, and plants that led to the discovery of Aspirin.A drug that is used extensively to treat heart disease.This was designed by Ann-Marie Powell.

These are only a few of the thirty five gardens that will be on display.I love the Chelsea Flower Show as you can tell.I cant wait for it to begin..
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