Oh how people laughed when I told them I was going to the Chelsea Flower Show! ‘It’s the first festival weekend and you’d rather be going to the Chelsea Flower Show?!’ Yes, readers, yes I would. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to go if I’m honest. What’s not to like about drinking Pimms in the sun all day surrounded by beautifully designed gardens?
As I stood waiting to meet my mum, however, I did realise that it was basically a convention for middle-aged women to show off their latest two piece from Phase Eight, boast about their begonias and coo over dishy Gardener’s World presenter, Monty Don. But if you can’t beat them, join them.
The show gardens were absolutely beautiful. Critically acclaimed landscape architects and designers create incredible, innovative structures that are set amongst beautiful planting. The gardens are usually based on a theme or inspired by a place, but every single one is entirely different.
My favourite of the show gardens was called the Mathematics Garden. When I heard about it on the TV coverage I thought it sounded so boring – what’s maths got to do with flowers?! Lol I was so wrong.
In the corner of the garden was a huge, copper, circular structure with an open staircase leading down to a pathway. (I think I loved it so much because copper is my favourite thing at the moment and I have loads of little indoor plants in copper pots, see example A.) The harsh copper structure was contrasted by trailing honeysuckles and ivies that fell from the top of the platform to the bottom, creating a shady space underneath that overlooked a circular pond. The plants consisted of lupins, irises, and fox gloves – plants that are typically associated with a cottage garden. However, palm and eucalyptus trees added a tropical side to the garden making it somewhat more exotic. The whole concept of the garden was the link between maths and nature. The copper platform was based on the Fibonacci spiral, found in pine cones and aloe vera plants, both of which were present in the garden.
The little plant that I got at Chelsea and Example A
Believe it or not, looking at flowers is tiring work. One of my favourite things about Chelsea is the middle-class food hall where houmous is on tap and everything is served with a vegetable crisp. From where we were sitting you could see the BBC Press Tent complete with an elevated, alfresco studio space, encircled with flowers. A crowd waited patiently below, ready with their digital cameras to snap Monty Don’s face when he turned around. I honestly couldn’t believe it when he eventually did turn around and the crowd starting cheering and applauding. Hoards of middle aged, middle class, flower show-goers losing their shit over a man with dirty hands and a scruffy blue jacket. (I didn’t snapchat the whole thing or take any selfies with Monty in the background, nope, not me, not at all…)
My favourite thing at Chelsea is the Royal Pavillion, full to the brim with blooming begonias, extra long leeks and prize-winning parsnips. The people that grow these are both an bizarre mixture of completely bonkers and absolutely incredible. The passion that exudes from breeders displaying their perfect peonies is infectious, and the best thing is that at 4pm on the last day, there’s a huge plant sell-off! Just before 4 there’s a 10 second countdown, 10… 9… and then suddenly everyone’s rushing to get bargain deals on french lavenders, fighting over fox gloves, and even grabbing roses by their thorny stems! I managed to get myself a ‘small’ bunch of tulips for a fiver by haggling with the stall owner’s son, who, it turned out, didn’t know what a tulip was.
They were particularly fun to carry back on the tube, although my sincere apologies do go out to anyone I accidentally whacked in the face… they did impair my vision slightly. The Chelsea Flower Show is for everyone, not just for middle class flower lovers, but for younger people, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, aunties and uncles. We met a 90 year old woman there who rode a moped! The only people I wouldn’t advise to go are ones with an extreme problem with hayfever.
As always, in case anyone cares, my dress is from Zara and can be purchased here!
This peony tho