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.
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.