Wednesday 25 May 2011

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - lovely show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show IS the world's greatest flower show - of that there can be no doubt.

I've just got back and I thoroughly enjoyed this year's show. I've been going to Chelsea to work since 1989, when I first went to work on the Gardening Which? stand, then 11 years working for Practical Gardening, Garden Answers and Garden News, then 10 years as the RHS Online Editor. This year, I was there as a freelance writer which was weird. After all the years of running around like a loon, trying to cover every aspect of the show for RHS Online, this year was so relaxed. I even managed to get to some of the champagne receptions and launches.

I do feel very privileged to be able to see Chelsea as a member of the press, before it's open to RHS members and the public and with the freedom of being able to go everywhere - quickly, without having to play sardines with tens of thousands of 'punters' and queuing up to crane my neck for a glimpse of a garden.

I have to admit that I thought the last two years Chelsea had lost its way, but this year it's back with a vengeance. The show gardens were generally up in quality and values. It's a shame there are so few smaller gardens - I always loved the town and chic gardens of previous years. I thought the artisan gardens didn't really work this year.

Obviously, we all disagree with the judges. I didn't think The Daily Telegraph garden was best in show. I was aghast that Bunny Guinness and the M&G Garden didn't get Gold (or even best in show). I was bowled over by Diarmuid Gavin's Fáilte Ireland garden - you know that Diarmuid is always going to be good value for money - his gardens may not be great, but you know he is going to do something to wind up the RHS, which is always great. But this year, he has wound up the RHS and produced a staggeringly beautiful garden.

But it's not only the great and the good who produce gardens at Chelsea with £250K of money to build something overwhelming. This year, schoolchildren across the country have grown plants for the Miracle-Grow'ers Learning Journey gardens. Yes, schoolchildren - as young as 7 & 8 years old. Having grown plants for an RHS show garden (many years ago now when I managed a garden centre - but the thought of it still haunts me!), I know how hard and complicated it is to get plants up to show standard, so well done to all the schools and children that took part. And yes, they won RHS Silver-Gilt Medals - which are only bettered by Gold.

View the online coverage of Chelsea on the RHS website

Elvis Costello once said:
"Oh no, it does not move me
Even though I've seen the movie
I don't want to check your pulse
I don't want nobody else
I don't want to go to Chelsea"

Well, that's his loss...

Sunday 15 May 2011

Winter plant deaths - final tally

I've not wanted to do this blog - it makes me cry just thinking about it - but I've finally made a tally of all the plants that have died in my garden due to the extreme(?) winter weather. I've already blogged about cordylines dying all over the country - and I'm still getting questions and e-mails about them.
To further complicate the cordyline problem, they are now suffering from bacterial slime flux: patches on the stem ooze white or orangey liquid that is sometimes frothy and which has an absolutely foul smell. There may also be black staining below the patch of ooze. Sadly, there are no cures for this bacterial disease - just cutting down affected stems.
Anhyoo, back to the winter deaths. I've left it this long to make the list, as plants can recover, but if you dig them up prematurely - they won't!
These are the ones that have croaked in my garden:

Buddleja Buzz Lavender & Buzz Magenta (in pots)
Campsis radicans Flamenco
Chamaerops humilis
Clematis paniculata
Clerodendrum trichotomum Carnival
Convolvulus cneorum x 2
Cordyline australis Sparkler
Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca 'Citrina'
Dianthus Devon Cream x2
Dianthus Passion
Dianthus Raspberry Sundae
Gerbera Everlast Pink & Everlast White & other varieties
Lobelia tupa
Musa basjoo
Olea europaea
Passiflora caerulea Constance Elliott
Penstemons – 6 different varieties
Pittosporum tenuifolium Abbotsbury Gold
Pittosporum tobira Variegata
Trachycarpus fortunei x 2
Tulbaghia violacea Silver Lace

Died/overwintered in the greenhouse:

Still looking ill/will they recover?
Corokia x virgata Sunsplash
Laurus nobilis
Phormium Cream Delight

What about you? Are there any plants you'll admit to losing over the winter?