We’re back from possibly the best week of our year here at Burgon & Ball; the week we spend at the world’s most famous flower show, RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The flurry of activity and glimpses of wondrous things we see during the show leaves us with myriad fleeting impressions; but which are the things which have stayed with us?
In no particular order, here are five of our favourite things from RHS Chelsea 2019.
The Wedgwood garden
We nearly missed the Wedgwood garden at Chelsea last year. Discovering it quite late in the show, we missed the opportunity to quietly absorb it, without the crowds, in the early morning or golden evening. This wonderful out-of-hours access is one of the best parts of working at the show, and is absolutely magical. When we did discover it last year, it was one of our favourites. So this year, we made a beeline for Wedgwood’s 2019 garden. We lucky to bump into Jo Thompson, the garden’s designer, to get the low-down on the background to the garden, and on how the build had gone. We’ll be writing about this garden in more detail before it fades from the memory, but suffice it to say, we loved the restful ambience, elegant classical structures, and areas of wild planting. We’ve certainly taken home some ideas from this garden.
The floral test tubes
This was simply spectacular! A mesmerising installation in the Floristry area of the Great Pavilion, this piece was entitled ‘Come What May’ and featured suspended test tubes of flower stems. Created by Festoon, it used May-flowering blooms and the delicacy was breathtaking. Showcasing the flowers of hedgerows and of forgotten corners of fields and gardens, it puts their beauty and exquisite shapes in the spotlight, and reminds us of what we’re so close to losing. A photo really can’t do it justice; you can see a video clip of it on our Facebook page.
With perfect timing as the long-running TV favourite ‘Game of Thrones’ drew to its dramatic climax, a giant driftwood dragon presided over the Chelsea showground. Technically a wyvern (which has two legs and two winged arms, as opposed to a dragon’s four legs plus wings), it was created by driftwood sculptor James Doran-Webb whose works wow the Chelsea crowds every year. This piece is called 'The Wyvern and the Temple' (atop which the Wyvern stands). Standing 5.5m tall and weighing 4.6 tonnes, it’s possibly not for every garden – but what an incredible creature feature on Main Avenue. We loved it!
The Manchester garden
This thoughtful garden in the Space to Grow gardens at the back of the showground appealed on several levels. The initial impact was the eye-catching sculpture which undulated through the garden, and the varied planting in tones of purple, white and rust. Talking to one of the garden’s creators, Sam Martin of Exterior Architecture, and sculptor Liam Hopkins of Lazerian, we learned more about the many themes woven through the garden; themes of sustainability, of the importance of greening urban spaces, of post-industrial transformation of a historic ‘northern powerhouse’ city. All this struck a chord with us, as a proud Sheffield manufacturer – and the planting was really pretty, too! We enjoyed the many trees, the use of water running through the garden, and the rich floral planting at the front of the garden.
You couldn’t miss them! They were everywhere. Taking over from the lupins of the last couple of years, the iris was very much this year’s flower of the moment. In every possible shade, these stately blooms lit up cool, shady areas, and simply blazed as they turned their elegant heads to the sun in brighter spots. They featured in many of the show gardens, but also put in appearances on trade stands and in numerous corners of planting around the showground, too. We’re not sure who decides what’s in fashion, or how it’s mystically and simultaneously communicated to so many garden designers, but suddenly irises were everywhere. And we loved seeing them bring their air of elegance and their rich colour palette to RHS Chelsea 2019.
Roll on Chelsea 2020! We’re sure it’ll be bigger and better than ever… and we can’t wait.