Kate’s First Trip to the Chelsea Flower Show

Tuesday, June 07 , 2016

Kate’s First Trip to the Chelsea Flower Show

It’s been a hectic few weeks at Chilstone. I am new to Chilstone and a Chelsea Flower Show rookie I watched the Temple we donated to the Meningitis Now Futures Garden take shape from the mould, to weathering it quickly to order, to the lorry all packed up with Terry, Josh and Adam to set it in place in the garden. I knew then that the Chelsea Flower Show was going to be special.

I watched the BBC TV coverage in anticipation.  I read all the blogs and studied the sketches by John Everiss, but none of it captured the feelings I had when I arrived.

The Artisan Gardens are down a leafy lane on the far edge of the show and when I arrived in the morning there was a peaceful vibe, even though it was already teaming with visitors.

The Meningitis Now garden found me.  The cedar statue of Jacob Gray standing knee deep in bright orange poppies slammed into view and pulled me towards it.Jacob’s statue seemed to shout “I fought and I won!”

I felt a lump in my throat as I took in the figures of the children, an onlooker unable to help them push through the wall of the disease, knowing that one figure didn’t make it and all who did were irrevocably changed. I thought of the strength these families. I thought of my neighbours’ daughter who suffers from hearing loss like the statue of Lauren Booth. Yes the garden was about a deadly illness, but it blossomed with hope as the Meningitis Now team answering the scores of questions from the visitors. I spoke to the designer John Everiss who said that meeting the young people he based the sculptures on had been a huge inspiration to bring this message to Chelsea.

There were other gardens around illness and healing, from hospital beds as flower beds in the Garden Bed by Stephen Welch and Alison Doxey. Cut flowers on a show garden was an ambitious design and I asked Alison how she managed it. She said she had a daily stash of fresh Delphiniums behind the stand, but by Wednesday she still hadn’t had to replace them. An impressive feat. (Helped by the freezing weather!)

There was the St. John’s Hospice – A Modern Apothecary garden by Jekka McVicar, that was completely beautiful, stuffed with flowering plants that heal and the Morgan Stanley Garden by Chris Beardshaw was a place of reflection for Great Ormond Street Hospital with bronze children reaching their arms out, looking up to the sky.

The pavilion was an explosion of petals in every colour, including walls smothered in Clematis and daffodils in May!

I liked the bonkers things, like big wicker horses that reminded me of the puppets in the staged Warhorse by Michael Morpago. And a man who could balance one stone on top of another to make a display. How do you discover that talent?Random, but fascinating.


Then there were huge glazed fruits that made me wonder if we could do crazy things with colour and high gloss with our cast stone for a modern garden.



But my personal favourite was the brilliant Garage Garden by Kazuyuki Ishihara complete with a vintage Mini  and so many coloured trees blended together that it looked like a stippled painting.  Cleverly constructed in a miniature space with a slightly retro twist.  I liked to imagine that if someone had shouted “Thunderbirds are GO!” that the whole garden would have swiveled open and a rocket would have blasted out. So much inspiration packed into one day and I’m hooked.


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