RHS Chelsea is always a highlight of our calendar – we just love it! It’s such a great way to kick off the summer, a feast for the senses, and a chance to catch up with old friends. It’s also really special to meet the gardeners who use and love our tools, to hear about the challenges they’re facing, and to learn about how they like to garden. We always come away absolutely buzzing with inspiration, and this year was no different. Here are our top memories from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.
The Nurture Landscapes garden We thought this garden was stop-in-your-tracks, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Designer Sarah Price drew inspiration from the painting of Cedric Morris, and the plants he grew and bred at his Suffolk home Benton End. This garden felt like waking from a dream, and looked like a painting come to life, with soft shades running though the planting and landscaping. There seemed to be a haze of a warm summer’s evening hanging in the air, and a welcoming table offered somewhere to sit and catch up with friends – perhaps with a glass of something cool. The exquisite bearded iris were the stars of the show, without a doubt. Morris produced over 90 new named varieties of iris, and many featured in the planting. But we’re a sucker for succulents, too, and there were some simply stunning aeoniums in the mix, lending a Mediterranean feel. A well-deserved Gold Medal winner.
The giant insects We’re lucky to be able to be at the show on Press Day on the Monday before the show opens. The gardens are looking at their pristine best and there’s a famous face around every corner. Musical performances, people in fabulous costumes, Press Day has it all. This year saw giant insects, too! The Royal Entomological Society Garden showcased numerous and varied insect habitats, while an outdoor laboratory conducted real scientific research, monitoring and studying insects visiting the garden - including the beautiful giant puppets, which buzzed around the garden and beyond, interacting with visitors and getting lots of attention. Dragonfly, bee, beetle, ant – we couldn’t decide which one we liked best.
The Talitha Arts garden We helped out this garden with some tools for the build, and we’d learnt a lot about it before the show from designers Joe and Laura Carey, so naturally we were keen to check it out! It was amazing to see the drawings come to life. The attention to detail was obvious, and talking to Joe and Laura it was clear they knew every leaf and petal in the garden. With a particular shade of pink here and a copper there, the complementary tones were echoed all around the garden – really masterful use of colour. Happily the Enkianthus campanulatus shrub had obliged and was in spectacular full bloom. And it was delightful to meet Naoko Tagai too, the artist behind the 250 white ceramic butterflies which seemed to pour out of the central chrysalis to flutter delicately above the planting. A stunning first Chelsea garden, congratulations to all involved on achieving a Gold Medal.
Our stand! Sorry, but we can’t resist blowing our own trumpet a little! We really loved our stand this year. We have a great location, right on Main Avenue in among the show gardens, so there’s always a real buzz, and it’s a great place to watch the famous faces come and go. We had beautiful planting from Dorset Planters, a super-stylish display of our indoor pots, and lots of our beautiful shiny RHS-endorsed tools sparkling in the sun. What’s not to love?! The RHS trade stand judges seemed to like it too. At Chelsea the stands are judged, just like the gardens, and we were delighted when we were awarded four stars for our stand. Big thanks and congratulations to everyone at Team Burgon & Ball who worked so hard to make it look so good.
The Biophilic Garden Otsu – Hanare Mr Ishihara, the designer of this garden, is a Chelsea favourite, always presenting exquisite Japanese gardens – and invariably winning Gold. His delight at winning this accolade remains as great as for his first medal, and every year it’s a delight to see his joy and his pride in his team. This year his garden focused on Biophilia, ‘the human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature’. With staggering attention to detail, the delicate planting surrounding the running water brought a sense of calm and tranquillity. We were lucky to see it very early one morning, before the crowds and the heat of the day, and just sitting there in the peace absorbing the garden, watching the water move, imagining the cool of the moss, watching the iris tremble delicately in the breeze… It’s a special memory.
Lincolnshire Pond Plants exhibit in the Great Pavilion We couldn’t believe the scale and ambition of this exhibit by the team at Lincolnshire Pond Plants! It was packed with interesting aquatic plants, so we stopped to chat. We learned that the portable pond contains 5,500 litres of water, taking five to six hours to fill. Although it was the team’s first time at Chelsea, they had exhibited at other RHS shows. In fact, they’re exhibiting nine times this year! The biggest challenge is the enormous gunnera, which is transported in a 60-litre bin, taking several people to lift it. There was quite a breeze in the Pavilion that day, and we learned that it can be a problem as the wind blows the iris about the pond. And yes – under the decking are stored waders, for someone to hop in and float the iris back to where they need to be! A well-deserved Gold Medal for this fantastic exhibit.
And then it was all over. As the Chelsea Pensioners marched through the showground to close another show, we realised sadly that it was finished for another year. But it will be back – and so will we!