Following on from my earlier post at Chelsea Flower Show I conclude here now with Part 2, which begins in the Great Pavilion where I found some welcome emphasis on food growing.
The Miracle-Gro’wers learning journey featured four historical gardens; from 1913 and Votes for Women, from the 1940s and Dig for Victory, from the 1970s and Flower Power and from 2013 with an Eco theme.
|Young growers prepared for air raid in their WW2 Dig for Victory garden. The little girl has her gas mask at the ready!|
200 schools across the country were involved in this project, and though I would never personally advocate the use of artificial feeds, at least Miracle-Gro have got these children growing. The jury’s still out for me. I guess it's a question of weighing up the pros and cons.
The East Malling fruit research folk were there, celebrating 100 years of scientific excellence. Almost all cultivated apple trees in the UK, and indeed in most of Europe, are grown on Malling root stocks. I enjoyed learning the history and the roots-and-all apple tree display was quite a sight.
|Apple tree, roots-and-all|
I very much liked this watercress fountain.
And lovely heritage vegetable plants - Jaguar pea, Chantenay carrot, crimson broad bean - interplanted with ornamentals at Barnsdale Gardens.
Veggies grown in smart wooden raised beds sitting comfortably alongside what I call ‘metre square sack gardens ’.
I did this with my group at one of my part-time contract jobs a couple of years ago, reusing the metre square sacks that the top soil, compost and chipped bark (yuk! so gross!!) had arrived in. It's amazing and rather wonderful to see down-to-earth grassroots gardening like this at prestigious Chelsea Flower Show!
Sometimes you just want a nice cup of tea and at Sparsholt College’s Teavolution the choice of plants to grow for a tasty herbal infusion was wide. Themed on The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and using all possible surfaces as plant containers this was quite a display. The table and chairs, the floor and the walls, and indeed any pocket of planting space available was filled with possibilities. Mad but fab!
Maybe it's because I've such a fondness for history in all forms that I was drawn over to look at The Wardian Case. Discovered in a locked shed at Tregothnan, best known these days as the only producer growing tea in England, the world's only surviving travelling mini-greenhouse was invented in the 1830s as a shipping device to transport plants safely around the world with limited water.
Ancient and fabulous, this old piece of history once held specimens brought back by plant hunters from all around the world. I love that!
And then there were the flowers to look at.
Because I teach gardening for urban dwellers who may only have a balcony or window box I use a lot of Alpine and dwarf varieties in order to create mini-gardens in containers. The Alpine Garden Society’s sumptuous display was an inspiration, these divine little plants glistening like jewels. Gorgeous!
The spiral lavender display at Downderry didn't disappoint.
I especially loved this blue and white variety, ‘ballerina’.
I've never had much luck growing peonies, which is a shame because I adore them. Like gorgeous plump pink pillows, I could have dived into the display at Kelways.
More of my favourite things - foxgloves, freesia and aquilegia at The Botanic Nursery.
I'm quite a fan of big, blousy flowering lusciousness. The National Dahlia Collection demonstrated that these old-fashioned favourite flowers have been through quite a transformation.
Modern varieties, much less blousy than those from my childhood memories, remain luscious.
And another old friendship was rekindled. I have known Alan for more than 30 years and was so, so happy to receive a message from him telling me he would be in the pavilion with his brother, multi award-winning grower Don Billington. It was such a joy to meet up with Alan again amongst the bromeliads and tropical plants at Don’s stand, Every Picture Tells A Story, a little haven of exotica and unusual tropical treats.
I found out later that Don had won another well-deserved prize to add to his collection- a Chelsea gold - fabulous!
I started my Chelsea reviews feeling rather flat about the whole thing, but now that they’re written and posted I have to conclude that despite the lack of buzz and excitement, I had rather a good time after all. Now we just need a little warmth and heat and we can all enjoy our gardens and our growing.
Love Chelsea Flower Show