Chelsea Flower Show!

Before anything I must warn you: this post is going to be heavy with photos, and on top of that photos of flowers and other wonders of nature, mastered by the human eye. If for any reason you happen to dislike nature, design, and the two combined, close the tab or your internet page. Also, your internet might not handle all those colourful photos at once really well…
But now that that’s all clear, let’s get started!

My mom’s worked hard to become a garden designer; with her degree in hands and having been selected to be part of the SGD (society of garden designers), I’m pretty proud to say she’s on her way to success. In my mind, that’s clients, big companies coming to her for designs, traveling and someday being the owner of an actual company of garden design. As for her, the big dream is a garden displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show with a gold medal above her name. One thing she taught me is: you gotta have ambition in life! So no wonder, the Chelsea Flower Show is THE event of the year for my mom and not only is she lucky enough to go every year with a fancy wristband that gives you much more access, this year she had an extra one for me!
IMG_5357 I ran after class from Oxford last Friday and hopped on a bus heading home. We left my house at 4pm, eyes ready to be dazzled, and hopped on a 211, Chelseabound. The show closes at 8pm but our exhibitors’ wristbands entitled us the right to stay until 9pm. When my mom told me that, I thought 4 hours and a half would be really long and we wouldn’t actually need to stay until that late. Never could I have been more wrong! I get now when my mom says she could spend all day there. You’ll see…
I also get why she wakes up at 5am to be there at 6. It was terribly crowded… Sometimes too crowded… Heads and hands in the way, it was sometimes unpleasant when contemplating some gardens. But you can used to it…

What shall we see first? Flowers or gardens? Ok let’s start with the flowers ;)
The humongous main greenhouse had become a flower wonderland…
P1060648 P1060649 P1060652 Chrysanthemum
P1060657 Cactus
P1060661 And the roses… Oh dear the roses, probably the most fragrant roses I have ever smelt in my life…
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My mom and I were very fond of the tropical plants which reminded us of our gardens in Camerouns, Congo and Gabon.
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A specialist even taught us some interesting facts about spices, especially nutmeg; I get it why it’s rather pricey spice compared to cinnamon or cloves.
P1060684 We spent some time by the Clematis as my mom wanted to ask some questions about eventually planting some in our shady garden.
P1060703 Everything was so impressively displayed and made us dreams of lovely summer nights in our imaginary and ideal gardens.
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My favorite flower display was… Waitrose’s. I know, you must think: “Waitrose? Really?” But check this out…
P1060745Notice anything? Like the cabbage and cauliflower matching the white and light green leaf flowers? And the peppers, tomatoes and strawberries complementing the red flowers?
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What about the purple cabbages??
I was seriously amazed by the composition and very inspired… It showed how easy it is to turn simple things into a beautiful and original ornament. I will definitely try a centerpiece of the same kind at home someday. Maybe a DIY post? We’ll see ;)

We then moved outside where the actual gardens were as well as outside garden elements… Like a BBQ table where everyone can grill their own meat! Coolest idea EVER.
P1060825 Or outdoor living area…
P1060801 P1060794 P1060819 P1060804 My mom and I felt really comfy in this cute little cabin… She kept asking “Where could we put this in our garden?”
P1060811 P1060813 Of course, some stuff was directly on sale and stood next to beautiful creations…
P1060837 P1060839P1060848 But let’s move to the best bit! The gardens…
First, we have Cleve West’s “M&G garden” with Persian influence… Gold medal of course.
P1060628 P1060633 P1060637 About the medals… You would think designers from all over the world would be happy just to the idea of exhibiting their own work at the Chelsea Flower Show… We I could overhear my mom and her garden designer friend Steve who was an exhibitor last week saying “how tragic is this… All this work for a Silver-Gilt medal” (which is right after gold, before silver). I know >.< It’s crazy… But my mom confirmed they rage when they only get silver… Poor bitter bronze medalists then…

We passed by a garden by Gucci, inspired from one of Grace Kelly’s scarves.
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Ok then my favorite of all: Matt Keightley’s “Hope for Horizon” which celebrates heroes of all kind. I absolutely adored the design, the material, the idea as a whole…
P1060854 P1060867 P1060865 P1060877 P1060882 The best bit is those 5 rectangle stones at the end of the garden: as the sun and weather change, the projection of the shadows of the trees and leaves move on the stone canvas and give the impression of a different modern painting when you look at it at different moments of the day. I actually had to ask Matt Keightley to move aside so I could take these photos… Oh well ^^
P1060858 P1060859 I can’t say I was a bit disappointed he only got a silver-gilt medal and can understand why everyone’s bitter if they don’t get gold; it is indeed so much work, and so much achievement.

Other really nice design that I appreciated because it would fit perfectly on the beach at my grandparents’ house in Lacanau: Susannah Hunter and Catherine MacDonald’s Massachusetts Garden.

Other original work: a garden inspired by the Milky Way, by two brothers Harry Rich & David Rich “Vital Earth the Night Sky”. The flowers in the gardens look like starry sprinkles, and there’s a telescope on the roof of the cabin, turned towards the constellations, which explicates the astronomy connotation.
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Ok on to my second favorite design! Just because it looked so French (despite being designed by a Spanish man and an American) … the plane trees reminded me of the ones my grandparents used to have in their old house, Beythies, and the ones that line the long drive path leading to my great aunt’s badass castle; you’ll also find them in the Tuileries, with the same idea of those chairs where people can sit and relax, having found shelter from the sunbeams on a hot summer day under the fluffy yet disciplined leaves. I loved everything about Tommaso del Buono & Paul Gazerwitz’s “The Telegraph garden”.
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Best show garden awards went to the “Laurent-Perrier garden”, designed by Luciano Giubbilei. Very Italian.
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LCD design’s “The Mind’s eyes” looked amazing – unfortunately the designer was there with his friends and we couldn’t actually walk in it. My mom made it worse by bragging about how she got to step in the water box in the morning when there was still nobody.
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We saw more great stuff in terms of inspiration, composition.
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It got a bit chilly and we were in need for a cup of hot tea. It was probably around 7pm and we thought we’d wait for the crowd to leave and then see the rest in peace and quiet. We walked to this lovely chilling area – which is apparently the most crowded place of the whole show during the day, people just love to eat and drink Pimm’s and champagne on summer days, can’t blame them.
P1060964 P1060967 P1060966P1060969 We had a really nice chat with Steve before moving to the Artisan gardens which were absolutely adorable…
Best Artisan Garden award went to Kazuyuki Ishihara’s “Paradise on Earth”.
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I loved the one dedicated to the centenary of WWI: gold medalist of course, I’m talking about ” The DialAFlight Potter’s Garden”.
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More great stuff… I can’t really get into the details of everything can I? There was so much!
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We passed by an opera concert and got to listen to some amazing voice power :) Kept holding our fists up in the air to show off our wristbands to the security people.

We walked back to the garden areas… It was 8 past, people had left… It was calm, quiet, no crowd blocking the sight.
P1070010 We finished our visit with ” Positively Stoke-on-Trent”. My mom and I were really impressed by the technology but Steve pointed out how such a garden may be a great show garden, but not a good sustainable one to have at your own house… I think he’s right. But still really impressive, I’ll give them that!
P1070005 We walked towards the exit, our pathway lined with more pretty things to immortalize with snapshots.
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I hope I’ll get to go back some day :) I’m really glad I finally went after all this time and definitely recommend it to anyone for the years to come: it’s a London thing that cannot be missed, especially if you have the opportunity.