What I like doing best at Chelsea is looking for ideas that I could replicate in my own garden one day. And as I may finally have one (fingers crossed – it’s all going through at the moment), this was a year when I could actually walk around noting ideas that I could actually put into practice. Hurrah!
There were quite a few roses around this year, and I liked the informal, lax habit of the Rosa rugosa in the Brewin Dolphin garden (above).
I liked Christopher Bradley-Hole’s garden but felt I’d seen many elements of it before – the multi-stemmed trees, blocks of box and yew, the meadowy planting, the cow parsley… Not only in previous Chelsea gardens but also at the Canal House in Amsterdam last year. That said, I love a multi-stemmed tree, neatly clipped box, and a bit of meadowy planting, and would definitely like to include them in my own garden.
I also the loved the way that edible and ornamental plants were mingled together in Adam Frost’s ‘Sowing the Seeds of Change’ garden for Homebase. I will definitely be doing this – I want to cram in as many edibles as possible.
I loved this simple oak bench in the Un Garreg (One Stone) garden. It may look simple but I bet it cost a small fortune.
The pebble path in the Healing Garden was designed to be walked on barefoot, stimulating reflexology pressure points.
Ponds scare me. They look complicated to get right, and I’ve seen a lot of bad ones. But this looks really doable – it’s shallow (so not too much digging) and the pebbles cover a multitude of sins.
And for sheer flight of fancy, who could resist this kids’ treehouse in the NSPCC garden? I think it made everyone want to be a kid again.
‘LET’S GET OUT OF HERE – THE PRICES ARE RIDICULOUS!!!’ cried Vicky after we’d been lured into Anthropologie by a nice dress in the window (price tag: £198). In that respect she reminds me of my French friend Esther, who says ‘ILS SONT MALADES!!!’ when confronted with hefty price tags.
I always say I don’t mind the prices in Anthropologie because I’m happy just to look at all the pretty things (even though it’s apparently much cheaper in the States, which is annoying). But I fell hook, line and sinker for this vintage French table, chairs and umbrella. They weren’t for sale, which is just as well because I no doubt wouldn’t have been able to afford them. That would have prompted more choice words from Vicky and some wistful looks from me.
Also on the E17 Art Trail we passed this little gem, which belongs to Becky Wynn Griffiths and her partner. From the Art Trail map we weren’t sure whether the art in the house was going to feature cats crying blood (yes, really) or championship farm animals. We were relieved to find it was the latter. Becky’s art centres around photographs and paintings of prizewinning cows, sheep and pigs.
Needless to say I tarried awhile in the front garden. It’s home to some bright annuals and perennials in pots, a big phormium, nasturtiums spilling out of windowboxes and an acer. The burnished shades complement each other perfectly. There’s even a bench, topped with interesting objects. The whole garden is a great lesson in what you can achieve in just a few square metres.
If there’s a nicer town than Totnes in Devon, I’ve yet to find it. It’s a Transition Town, has a garden sharing scheme and is surrounded by a patchwork of gently rolling hills. It’s virtually impossible to find anything in the town that isn’t locally sourced or organic – and that’s just in the best convenience store ever, the Happy Apple. I’d move there like a shot if it wasn’t so far away.
As it’s very hilly, the town isn’t conducive to walking with a crutch so I was unable to gad about too much. But to be honest I wouldn’t have been too sorry if I’d had to spend my entire time at Mary’s house, which is filled to the rafters with charming vintage finds. This table and chairs is one of her more recent additions to the garden.