The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 Press Conference in January is always something I look forward to. Even though I’ve been involved in the Show for 25 years, it is always exciting to hear about other exhibitors plans and see what we have in store in May.
The Press Conference reveals the line-up of Show gardens, highlights of the small and Fresh Gardens and a peak at what to look forward to in the Great Pavilion.
This year The Great Pavilion has two main themes: the idea being to make it more appealing to visitors and easier for the BBC to film.
How much of an impact this will have is hard to tell; for many gardeners the Floral Pavilion is still very much what Chelsea is all about.
The two themes are ‘Best of British’ and ‘Floral Continents’. Although I am responsible for the Hillier Nurseries exhibit on the Monument site, at the heart of the Great Pavilion I have opted for ‘Floral Continents’ rather than ‘Best of British’.
For me RHS Chelsea is a Global show with exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. A garden is a meeting place for plants from all the continents; it brings together plants that have been introduced from across the globe.
Therefore my theme is ‘Crossing Continents’; I’ll tell you more about that on another occasion, but I had the opportunity to talk about it at the Conference.
I also had the opportunity to chat to first time exhibitors Jack and Laura Willgoss from Wildegoose Nursery.
They specialise in violas and hold the National collection www.boutsviolas.co.uk Great to see young people with such a passion for plants presenting their violas at Chelsea. I’m also hoping they will tell their story on this blog in the near future.
Now to the Show Gardens. Sponsors of the Show M&G are working with Jo Thompson to design their garden. She say it is a “Traditional space with contemporary elements; a retreat from life in the 21st Century”. “
The Retreat” is somewhere you can swim, sit, enjoy, enjoy the plants or write your next novel upstairs in the two storey building. In hr. presentation she referred to the three writing rooms at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, SE England. Hardly an average garden – but then nothing at Chelsea ever is!
It was good to see Dan Pearson and it will be great to have him back at Chelsea 2015. Dan is designing the Laurent Perrier garden, this time in conjunction with Chatsworth.
Laurent Perrier gardens are known for their immaculately perfect structure. Dan is bound to come at it from a looser, more naturalistic angle. He says it will be “elegant in a different way”.
Based on Chatsworth, he regards this as one of his major projects of the year alongside the London Garden Bridge. That puts the magnitude of a Chelsea show garden in perspective.
The Hidden Beauty of Kranji is a tropical garden designed by John Tan and Raymond Toh, first time exhibitors at RHS Chelsea. Kranji is a suburb of Singapore. The garden is filled with lush, tropical vegetation with shots of vibrant colour and running water.
The L’Occitaine garden: A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse, designed by James Basson is bound to be public favourite. Everyone one loves lavender and this is bound to overflow with it. The garden celebrates the renaissance of the perfume industry in Grasse.
Chris Beardshaw also returns to Chelsea this year as designer of the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden.
The garden is being relocated after the show to form the centrepiece of a new community project in East London. Chris is good at producing a garden with a sound story behind it and this one looks like doing just that.
The Time Inbetween, sponsored by Gardena/Husqvarna is an interesting concept by first time Australian designer Charlie Albone.
Described as a space to update his father about his life since his father died when he was 17. Different areas of the garden represent different stages in Charlie’s life as I understand it.
It is an interesting idea and a challenging concept – It will certainly take some explaining to the visitors – but so do all designers’ ideas.
Rather than going through the full list – take a look at further details on the RHS website.
The highlight of the conference was a talk by Sir Paul Smith – he of shirts, socks, sweaters, suits that we all desire. What a nice man!
He’s a Chelsea regular and his words on where his inspiration comes from were just fascinating. He showed images of the Show and then the fabrics and the garments they inspired. Quite unbelievable how a bench of buckets of roses becomes a pair of socks!