I went to Naomi’s house after the Chelsea Flower Show press day. It was good to see a real, lived-in garden that is free of fancy hard landscaping and manicured lawns (and to drink a beer outside on an amazingly warm evening). The magenta of the rose, gladiolus and Geranium psilostemon looked great against the acid yellow of the euphorbia.
Oh, the scent!
This little seating area is at the back of a garden, on the edge of some allotments. I’m not sure whether it’s part of the allotments, or part of the garden. Either way, it’s charming. I like the wildness of it.
It made me think of my own garden. A couple of weeks ago, it was home to some spectacular apple blossom, and a lawn that had become almost meadow-like, filled with daisies, dandelions and herb robert. Rubbish weather, too much work and a shoulder injury meant that I hadn’t been able to mow it. I kind of liked it like that, although I did feel that it was teetering on the edge of chaos.
My boyfriend mowed the lawn, trying to avoid the black and white bees* that were buzzing over it, and order was restored once more. But I’m not sure which version of the garden I preferred. As the garden develops, I’m going to keep some areas of long grass and create a proper mini meadow.
*I’ve subsequently discovered that the bees are Ashy mining bees, Andrena cineraria, which nest in lawns at this time of year. They pollinate fruit trees and nest in lawns. Another reason not to mow.
I went to Chelsea this year seeking inspiration for my own garden – a first for me. It was great to be able to wander around the Great Pavilion, knowing that I could actually use the plants in my own garden if I wanted. My favourite garden was by Cleve West, especially the gravel section – not that I could recreate that in the soggy West Country.
I also really liked Marilyn Abbot’s Topiarist’s Garden (below). I loved the cool greenness of it. And the fact that a lot was crammed into a small space, without it feeling cramped.
I’m on the lookout for a multi-stemmed shrub or tree for my main border, and the Amelanchier canadensis above (in Luciano Giubbilei’s garden for Laurent Perrier) comes highly recommended by James Alexander-Sinclair as a tree for all seasons. It’s on sale at my local garden so maybe I’ll go for it.
I loved this dark pink rose, peony and box ball, lightened by the airy grass in the Positively Stoke-on-Trent garden.
A friend has given me lots of Geranium phaeum, which I’m planning on using in the shady side of the garden. It looked great mixed with euphorbia and purple-leaved plants.
This year there was a refreshing lack of young ladies wearing only body paint to promote the gardens. I failed to match my celeb- spotting nirvana of Chelsea 2012, when I got up close and personal with Gwyneth Paltrow. Instead I saw Esther Rantzen rush up to a Chelsea Pensioner, presumably to interview him. (Esther (gushingly): ‘Hi!! Are you Jack?!!!!’. Chelsea Pensioner (coolly): ‘No.’). The highlight of my day was meeting some Vikings. They told us all about the battles they take part in, the injuries they’ve sustained, and how to hold a sword correctly. You wouldn’t mess with them, I can tell you.
This phone box is no longer working, but according to the sign inside, it’s maintained by the members of the village gardening club. This is a chocolate box village with gorgeous views over rolling hills, and I bet passing tourists love this.
I can’t imagine British Telecom are too happy about this arrangement…