England Trip: Chelsea Flower Show (2011)

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This years Chelsea Flower Show starts next Tuesday so I thought it would be a good time to do a photo post of my visit to the show last year.

I did post about my favorite garden at the show while I was in England but never took the time to share the rest of my photos.

If you are a fanatical gardener like me it is well worth a trip to Chelsea at least once in your life (this was my second trip). It really is the most amazing garden show in the world.

Pictures are OK but they don’t really do it justice. This is something that should be seen in person.

My Favorite Show Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

I loved all the display gardens I saw today but the one that really stood out for me was the RBC New Wild Garden. It is based on William Robinsons ideas and concepts and features recycled materials, a green roof shipping container office, wildlife habitat, and is the first full scale rain garden at Chelsea.

I loved the simple plantings designed by Dr. Nigel Dunnett (most of which seem to have been selected to attract bees and butterflies and other wildlife).  They were separated into four distinct zones; a woodland, wet meadow, perennial and dry meadow. But what I really loved were the other structures incorporated into this garden which is unusual for me because I am pretty much all about plants.

There was a shipping container office provided by Green Roof Shelters and designed by John Little and Dan Monck. It includes a green roof and built in bird houses , bat housing and invertebrate habitats. I love the idea of recycled shipping containers and have been looking into them as a possible building material for my future “dream home” so it was great seeing them in this setting incorporating so many ways to attract wildlife.  The invertebrate habitat artistically arranged in different sized circular frames on the outside wall of the building was particularly impressive.

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The recycled shipping container with green roof and the circular frames holding habitat for invertebrates.

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On My Way…

On my way to the Chelsea Flower Show in a little bit.  I’m hoping the weather is a bit nicer today.  Yesterday we had pouring rain, lightning and thunder and hail.  My poor brother got caught out in the hail and said it was quite painful and all his luggage got soaked.

Updates and (hopefully) lots of cool pictures later today.

Back to England

Shortly after graduating from The New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture in 2004 I did an internship at The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew in England.  England had a great impact on my formative gardening years when I was self taught from books by great English authors and early days of HGTV (when they still showed gardening programs).  I was determined to study in or travel to England and visit some historic gardens and when a friend was accepted to the School of Horticulture at Kew I had an in.  I enjoyed my time there so much I even looked into getting a job there and staying but immigrating to the UK for an American isn’t easy to do and for a country that has such a vast and important gardening history and culture they sure don’t pay their gardeners well.

Normally I would pick somewhere entirely new to visit.  There are still a lot of countries with gardens I want to see.  But there are two things I missed out on the last time I was in England.  The first was The Chelsea Flower Show.  Now I did actually attend the show.  In fact it was one of the things I was most excited about.  But my aforementioned friend had purchased the tickets and the day of the show she had to meet with her thesis advisor for the first time.  Apparently this expert on Nepenthe was a bit lonely and once they started talking he didn’t want to let her go.  So we already had a late start and then as we rushed to Chelsea she left her wallet on the counter at the Tube station and we had to go back and get it.  So we arrived at the show with just over an hour before it closed.  Knowing that wasn’t enough time to see everything I wanted to see I simply ran around with my camera and took pictures of everything without really getting a good look at it.  I figured at least if I was going to be rushed I would be able to enjoy it later.  But then when transferring the pictures from my SD card to a CD I accidentally deleted all but one of them.  That’s right I took around 230 pictures and deleted them all.  Except this one:

Ora - The New Zealand Garden of Wellbeing

It is pretty cool.  The first garden entry from New Zealand at The Chelsea Flower Show and it won a gold medal but because it is my only picture it is pretty much the only thing I remember about the show.  This time I bought a full day ticket and will have 12 hours to take as many pictures as I want. I will be extra careful not to delete any of them.

The other thing I really wanted to do but ran out of time was to visit Beth Chatto’s garden in Essex.  I especially want to see her gravel garden that never receives any supplemental watering.  So the day after the flower show I plan on taking a train up to Essex and paying Ms. Chatto a visit.  She is 88 years old this year so I feel like I shouldn’t put this off any longer.

Then my family is joining me and we are planning a bit of a family trip around London and southern England. Should be interesting as the four of us (my father, brother, and sister) haven’t all been on a trip together since I was a teen.  Of course I want to see as many gardens as we can fit in so I am hoping that they don’t put up too much of a fight.  There have already been some grumblings but at the very least I am hoping to see Hidcote and Knightshayes Court.  I have a list of over a dozen gardens I want to visit so it is a little overwhelming trying to figure out what my priorities are and how to get to them all in the time allotted and still allow time for touristy things the rest of the group will enjoy.