14 June 2010

Chelsea Flower Show 2010 - more than flowers

I had been half-tempted to go to the Chelsea Flower Show before but never enough to actually get around to doing anything about it. The difference this year was that somebody at work organised a group booking, and a good discount too.

Expecting the place to be busy I aimed to be there soon after opening time, 8am, but laziness conspired against me and I did not get there until around 8:30 by which time the crowds were streaming in but not yet in such numbers to make the experience unpleasant.

My expectations were very much set by years of watching the extensive coverage on BBC TV and so I knew about the show gardens.

More than that, it soon became apparent that I knew all of the show gardens as there are not actually that many and they had all had plenty of air time.

But seeing them in the flesh, so to speak, was so much better than watching Alan Titmarsh walking through them.

The gardens varied greatly in concept and design to it is impossible to pick one as being typical so I'll pick my favourite instead. The still water and white stone reminded me immensely of China but with a gorgeous modern twist.

As well as the show gardens there was a stupidly wide range of things that you could buy to put in your own.

There were the expected pots, sheds, summer houses, benches and classic sculptures but there was much more than that.

I loved a lot of the modern art that would fit in the home just as well as it would in the garden.

Among this was a collection of large artificial flowers which I could just about imagine sitting on my front lawn and a tall statue of two mermaids with long tails, that reminded me so much of Rusalka at Glyndebourne last year, which needed a larger garden to adorn that I could offer. I probably could not afford it anyway!

There was a surprise, and it was a pleasant one.

I knew there was a marquee with flowers in it but I did not realise just how big or sumptuous that would be.

As with the gardens, it is impossible to pick a single photo that is typical of the floral displays but here's one that I like from the two hundred or so that I took in just a few hours.

The rain taunted the day forcing people in to the marquee at times but did not do enough to ruin the day. But it's a big site with plenty to see and eventually tiredness won and so after a happy five hours I headed more for a cup of tea, some jam sandwiches and a little rest before Dr Who.

Chelsea was a lot of fun and I am delighted that I finally broke my flower show duck but I think that I'll go back to just watching it on the telly next year.

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