Chelsea is leaving late … I love it! Pumpkins, ripe fruit, VERY weird shows – ROBERT HARDMAN

0


What is that ? Pumpkins? Here at the Chelsea Flower Show? It’s like finding reindeer on the race map at Royal Ascot.

Just around the corner, I come across an apple tree. It contains what can only be described as apples.

Still, I have to look up and down for anything that looks like a rose. As for a touch of flower, forget it.

Andie McDowell pictured with Chelsea retiree Peter Henry and his stunning Dahlia display on his ‘Dahlia Beach’ booth at the Chelsea Flower Show, London today

Chelsea have traditionally been the great harbinger of our summer.  This is the first match in this glorious and timeless succession of famous British summer traditions that we like to call 'the season' - Wimbledon, Henley, Glorious Goodwood, Cowes and a Highland Games to end.

Chelsea have traditionally been the great harbinger of our summer. This is the first match in this glorious and timeless succession of famous British summer traditions that we like to call ‘the season’ – Wimbledon, Henley, Glorious Goodwood, Cowes and a Highland Games to end.

No one remembers the last time the Royal Horticultural Society’s calendar gem featured a Halloween theme. This is because this has not happened before in the 108 year history of this event.

According to the organizers, this will not happen again either.

However, after wreaking havoc on just about everything else of life, the coronavirus has managed to sidetrack the Chelsea Flower Show 2021 from its dedicated niche from lush green May to mild and fruitful September.

So let’s take advantage of this magnificent unique fall piece.

Because while it may be a very different type of show than the usual, it hasn’t lost any of its magic.

It’s just that this year’s event is not so much a wonderful bloom as it is a magnificent one. Indeed, one or two of these trees could have abandoned the lot by the end of the week.

Chelsea have traditionally been the great harbinger of our summer. It’s the first match in this glorious and timeless succession of famous British summer traditions that we like to call “the season” – Wimbledon, Henley, Glorious Goodwood, Cowes and a Highland Games to end.

Except this year, the organizers have made a bold decision. Having lost the 2020 event entirely to the pandemic, they were preparing for May 2021 when there was an increase in Covid cases over the winter.

So they canceled again. Rather than waste another year, an emergency RHS board meeting decided to hold the event in September. Lucky third time and all that.

“For about a week after, everyone was saying ‘this will never work, it will look terrible, utterly impossible,'” said Helena Pettit, director of gardens and shows at RHS. “Then, after thinking about it, they all said, ‘what a wonderful unique opportunity.’ “

An artist performs Sanddorn Balance at the "A garden between the continents" exhibition garden at RHS

Artist performs Sanddorn Balance at ‘A Garden Between Continents’ exhibition garden at RHS

Speaking to the exhibitors here, I have the impression that many really appreciate this change of scenery.

“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I prefer September,” says Tom Massey, creator of Yeo Valley Organic Garden, one of the main show gardens competing this year. “Spring is always hectic and full of expectations. It’s all about fruits, berries and fall tones. He shows off the seed heads on the various grasses around his plot, hawthorn berries and bright yellow rudbeckia. None of these would be on the menu if he built this garden in May, but they lend a hazy, relaxed feel to a garden that also features a giant, glass-bottomed egg-shaped skin in fall colors. . Suspended from a tree, it is designed to observe the wildlife of the woods as the nights lengthen.

Nearby, I meet Naomi Ferrett-Cohen who has created an NHS Tribute garden. This was the idea of ​​John Frater of the University of Oxford, professor of infectious diseases, as he returned from a change in Covid at the city’s John Radcliffe Hospital in the midst of the pandemic.

“We were losing staff back then and yet everyone kept showing up for work. It seemed like we just had to mark this moment, ”he explains. So he reached out to Naomi and they applied for a spot at this year’s show. The result is a charming sunken garden with calming streams and ponds and exuberant late-flowering plants like red and yellow kniphofias, also known as ‘red pokers’.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex on an autumn visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex on an autumn visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

“I just remember when the call came to do this and we all felt like it was all falling over a precipice. It’s an answer to that, ”says Naomi. However, her initial May plan for rose alleys was to go straight to the compost bin when the date was changed.

Another medical garden, Robert Myers’ celebration of Florence Nightingale’s bicentennial, features medicinal shrubs like Chinese rhubarb and echinacea alongside walls lined with facsimiles of her gardening notes.

Nearby, I find the Finnish Soul Garden, full of autumnal scenes from the Baltic. Taina Suonio’s tribute to her homeland not only includes something that looks remarkably like a Christmas tree, but there is also a rowan tree, an apple tree filled with fruit, and a fully functioning sauna. She ushers me into the warm glass room – above the icy swimming pool obligatory for cooling off – and throws water on the embers.

They sizzle and smoke instantly. Authentic, certainly, but it’s not very summery.

The date change meant that some well-known producers are not here at all.

The main marquee, the Grand Pavillon, is usually overflowing with tulips, roses and fresh vegetables of all hues. Many regulars just don’t have anything worth showing off at this time of year.

It allowed many more to make their debuts, however. Much of it looks like a very elegant harvest festival.

I meet Stanley Jackson from the New Forest, whose Agrumi topiary stand has magnificent sculptures of animal hedges – including a jumping horse.

He’s never been able to take a stand here before. Nor the exotic and unusual Foster plants of North Lincolnshire, with their rich display of cacti and ‘succulents’. The same goes for Driftwood Bonsai from Doncaster. “I feel like my stomach is full of kittens,” says owner Mark Whitworth.

“My wife and I have been building this business for 22 years and being at Chelsea is a dream.”

Another consequence of the pandemic are brand new sections of Chelsea Fairgrounds hailing lockdown passion for small-scale gardening after millions of locked-in city dwellers turned to horticulture for therapy. There is an exhibition of “container gardens” – small urban plots where planting must take place above ground level.

Even smaller are the ‘balcony gardens’, teeming with color and life.

The craziest of the lot are the indoor plant studios, full of potted specimens to watch us spend the winter. Paul Holt of the N1 Garden Center has not only filled a cabin in the woods with fall plants and pumpkins, but is actually dressed from head to toe in pumpkin yellow.

Daisy the Drag Queen from Ru Paul's Drag Show had a fun day at the Chelsea Flower Show

Daisy the Drag Queen from Ru Paul’s Drag Show had a fun day at the Chelsea Flower Show

Robert Hardman in Yeo Valley Organic Garden on press day for the 2021 Chelsea Flower Show

Robert Hardman in Yeo Valley Organic Garden on press day for the 2021 Chelsea Flower Show

There has been no sign of the Queen here this year. Just like she loves Chelsea, she also loves her Balmoral break.

However, other family members were here yesterday to view the Queen’s Green Canopy Garden, celebrating its next platinum jubilee. Theatrical royalty also appeared in the form of Dame Judi Dench.

I even met a Hollywood name who ran a trade booth. Director Guy Ritchie loves outdoor cooking so much that he has now designed a new year-round heated outdoor dining unit.

Lydia Butler model representing the mistress of the Ural Mountains, depicted in 'Bodmin's Prison 60 degrees East - A garden between the continents'

Lydia Butler model representing the mistress of the Ural Mountains, depicted in ‘Bodmin’s Prison 60 degrees East – A garden between the continents’

He also put his money where his mouth is while making it. Models range from the £ 3,300 four-seater portable ‘Wildtable’ to a £ 51,000 tented dining room the size (and price) of a tiny house.

“The caveman in me loves to cook outside, but you always have the problem of heat – too much or too little – and smoke,” he explains. “This concerns both. “

There is another rather enjoyable aspect of this year’s show for those with a ticket.

Thanks to Covid, crowds have been reduced by 40% (with an extra day to compensate). Overall, everything seems calmer, slower and less corporate. Next year it should return to normal, we are told. Some may not necessarily see this as a good thing.


Share.

Leave A Reply