Sunday, 29 May 2011


For years I've wanted to visit the Chelsea Flower Show. When I was in my twenties I lived right across the river from the Royal Hospital, where it takes place, but I was as poor as a church mouse and could never afford to go. Well, finally I've achieved an ambition and been to the show in person instead of sitting at home, watching it on television.
If you've seen any coverage this year you'll know the garden everyone's been talking about is Diarmuid Gavin's Irish Sky Garden. When I first arrived at the show, the garden was flying high from its crane, but I noticed later when the weather turned blowy they had to bring it back down to earth. No-one can say Diarmuid is unoriginal, and he does have a really good eye for plants.
If you're restricted to visiting Chelsea in the middle part of the day you have to resign yourself to a slow shuffle past the show gardens. However a helpful shower of rain sent many people indoors, leaving us drowned but eager souls to enjoy a better look outside. I really loved the Royal Bank of Canada's New Wild Garden, designed by Nigel Dunnett. Look at the combination of textures and colours in the walls. Often I find I spend the longest time studying the smallest details. Around the show gardens there were some stunning sculptures including a light-catching sphere by David Harber, and a pair of boxing hares in the Skyshade Garden, and you can peer through the gates of the Royal Hospital where the Chelsea Pensioners live. It's a beautiful building.Inside the RHS Pavilion there are stunning displays of the exotic and the everyday, but all of it grown and presented to such a high standard.I know when I've seen enough because I stop looking at my surroundings and start to watch the people. I saw Alan Titchmarsh and Chris Beardshaw filming for the BBC. Then I spent a while listening to the brass band play, and looking for stories in the crowd. Finally I had a walk along the river. When I lived near the Battersea Power Station I don't think I took much notice of it, but looking at it again with fresh eyes I realised how magnificent it is.
It's funny going back to places where you've lived during a very different time in your life. I loved being in London when I was younger. Nowadays the traffic, people and pace of London soon overwhelm me. I'm glad I finally made it to Chelsea at last, but gladder still for the relative peace and quiet of home.


Joanna said...

A lovely post, Joanne.
I also find London a wonderful place to visit, but I'm always glad to be back in the peace and quiet of our village. After a while, the pace makes me feel a bit bewildered, as if I'm caught in something I can't keep up with.
I have a fascination for Battersea Power Station. There is something mysterious and imperious about those chimneys. They almost make me gasp when I first catch sight of them against the sky.

joanne fox said...

The chimneys were looking particularly dramatic against the dark clouds - probably why I paid them more attention this time.

MorningAJ said...

I'm so jealous. One year I shall get there. I'm promised myself that I shall.

bazza said...

My wife works for Barnados and when they were the charity of choice she was there on the first day and met all sorts of royalty and others; she's dined out on the story for years!
I'm not crazy about Diarmuid's designs but I would love a trip in the flying garden.
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

joanne fox said...

AJ, I hope you do. It's nice to say you've seen it for yourself, at least once in your life.

Bazza, how lucky for your wife to meet royalty and see the show before the crowds arrive.

Frances Garrood said...

Joanne, I am so envious! I would LOVE to go to the CFS, but am delighted that you had such a good time. Lovely photos, too!

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!!!! Well done for making it to the flower show!! It looks even better in your pics than on telly! I only saw snatches of the show - thank you bbc iplayer! - and it still feels a little mad! Oh those hares are amazing!!

Yay for Battersea power station! :-)

Thanks for sharing - enjoy the peace of your home now! Take care

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks so much for sharing those great photos with us, Joanne. Don't know when (or if) I'll ever get to see it in person so I appreciate you giving us a flavour of it!

joanne fox said...

Thank you Frances, Kitty and Rosemary. Although there is something a bit special about going to Chelsea, I've visited lots of other gardening shows which I've enjoyed just as much. No gardening on the agenda today though, as it's tipping it down - but then it is a bank holiday Monday, so what can we expect?

HelenMHunt said...

Looks like you had a fantastic time!

Ellie Garratt said...

Wow. Lucky, lucky you! I'm so thrilled you finally got to go and had such a fabulous time.

Dream it, then do it said...

Fantastic pictures.
Glad you had a good day.