I was going through my photos of Chelsea and I found this one which I had taken on my phone. It’s of Ulf, surrounded by his adoring fans, during the Show. It makes me smile – not many days before Ulf was on his knees, planting for 10 hours a day. Now he is dressed in his customary Prada being lauded by his admiring fans. The Chelsea Flower Show is a world of contrasts.
The Show is over for another year and the plans are already starting for next year. But the pictures below show you a Chelsea you never see. Only a few days ago, these gardens were Gold medal winning gardens. Now they are a building site.
Robert Herrick was right when he wrote:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old times are still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
And on that uncharacteristacilly philosophical note, I will bid you farewell for another year. Let’s see what 2014 brings.
It’s a nervous moment when you walk into the Show Ground to find out what medal you have won. The day before (Monday) is an exhausting day with judging starting at 8.00 so we have to be in very early to make sure that everything is spotless. Then there are endless TV crews and journalists trying to get onto the gardens – there are times when we are more like bouncers than gardeners. At 3.30 the Show Ground is cleared and the Royal walkaround starts. This year I was taking round Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice who were charming. It was a real rugger scrum when we got to Prince Harry’s garden. There must have been over 100 journalists and camera crews wanting to film Prince Harry and the rest of the Royal Family. After that there was the Gala night followed by dinner -exhausting. So you can imagine that I struggled a bit to get out of bed this morning. I was doing fine though until I found out that I had a puncture. Not a good day to have a flat tyre. I finally got to the Show and found that both gardens got Gold which is excellent. The RHS have given out 10 Golds this year which, in my opinion, is far too many and I’m sure that there will be some debate about it. But for now, we can relax with our pot of Gold. The Australian garden got Best in Show. One day someone can explain that decision to me but for now, I will just enjoy our gold rush.
There was quite a scrabble at Chelsea yesterday as we unveiled the Mark Quinn sculpture that he has generously donated to the RHS’s campaign for School gardening. It is incredibly kind of him and the money will go to a really fantastic cause. We were asked to create the garden in which the sculpture would sit. We were only asked a few weeks ago so it’s been quite a struggle to get it all designed and built. We also installed lighting – it looks spectacular at night.
In the spirit of friendly competitiveness, I went along to Jinny Blom’s garden this morning. Jinny has been on the front page of most glossy magazines because of Prince Harry’s support for her Sentebale garden. When I told her that she should spend more time planting and less time talking to her media friends, she decided to show her warm regard for my opinion. Luckily Charlotte Harris thought it was funny!
They may have lost their empire in the early 18th Century and they may have stopped making rather ugly cars (sorry Volvo owners) but I have to admit that the Swedes are workers. They get stuck in. Even Ulf was on the wheelbarrows today. Leif nevers stops and is constantly working, carrying, cleaning, levelling etc – all very impressive. I was quietly rather pleased when I heard that Tobias was approached ina restaurant, wearing a Crocus high-viz, and asked if he was Mark Fane – very flattering given that Tobias is at least 15 years younger and several stone lighter!