Top five things we learnt at Chelsea

Inspiration for Gardeners.

The RHS Flower Show is the greatest flower show on earth. It takes 800 people 33 days to build the show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital. The show gardens are built in 19 days. 5 days later, the grounds are restored to grass and the Chelsea pensioners can enjoy their walks in peace again.

The Show features over 500 exhibitors from around the world. That’s a lot to take in, so here is my edit of the top 5 things that inspired us from this year’s show.

Top 5 things we learnt at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015:

  1. The plants:

Of course, the plants. I have picked 3 that stood out for me as being particularly worth adding to our collection at Easton.

  1. Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ available at Dyson’s Salvias
  • This is a new introduction and has been awarded 3rd prize in RHS plant of the year 2015. I loved the dark maroon stems and flowers the colour of Ribena. It makes a bushy plant 80cm x 80 cm, flowers for the whole summer and is loved by bees. In our garden we will keep it in pots so that it can overwinter in a cool greenhouse. (Photo Credit: Plants For Europe)

Salvia Love and Wishes - an amazing colour William Dyson - Chelsea exhibitor - with Salvia Love and Wishes

  1. Aeonium ‘Poldark’ at Trewidden Nursery
  • This homebred Aeonium really excited me. We grow A. arboreum ‘Shwarzkopf’ – a fabulous plant for large planting schemes but inclined to look like a walking stick with a black succulent on top. Aeonium ‘Poldark’ is a cross between A. ‘Shwarzkopf’ and A. arboreum and has all the qualities of its parents as well as a branching compact habit. Perfect for low maintenance summer containers.

Aeoniumpoldark.jpg-large Aeoniums at Chelsea

  1. Nepeta grandiflora ‘Summer Magic’ at Hardy’s Plants
  • First launched at Chelsea by Hardy’s in 2013, this compact catmint has stood the test of time as it weaved through the planting on this year’s display. Catmint flowers all summer but can flop about a bit – this new cultivar holds its shape better. Compact, weather resistant and a great alternative to lavender for those of us who have soil that lavender just doesn’t like. See this year’s introduction here.

Rosie Hardy at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 Nepeta grandiflora 'Summer Magic'

  1. Alpines

As many of you will know, we have recently added a large alpine bed and troughs to the Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens. The clever ‘here’s-one-I-made earlier’ or ‘alpines for dummies’ approach by Rotherview Nursery made picking and mixing alpines in troughs a breeze. Zoom in to the pictures below to see their guides to each trough.

Alpine trough RHS Chelsea 2015 Alpine Trough RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015

  1. Plant Tunnels from Plant Belles

We are big fans of rusted metal at Easton Walled Gardens. Likely to have been made from recycled products, the burnt umber colour fades into the green landscape and provides support, rather than a clash, to your colour scheme.

plant belles plant tunnels

Rustic do-it-yourself plant tunnels in various heights protect your precious crops from pests and cold. The hoops hold bamboo canes which form a framework to take plastic or fleece. Green, easy and with no maintenance issues, we like the idea of trying out Plant Belles metal hoops in our vegetable garden.

  1. Tomato Conversations with Paolo Arrigo of Seeds of Italy and Susan Robinson from
    W. Robinson and Son.

One of the big draws of Chelsea Flower Show is meeting like minded people. Talking to vegetable specialists if you are a gardener and love food is an intensely pleasurable experience.

chelsea flower show 2015 269 Susan Robinson at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Here is the master of italian edibles, Paolo Arrigo (not quite a pensioner yet!) and Susan Robinson, part of a legendary dynasty of vegetable growers. In two 10 minute conversations I learnt some canny observations that could take a lifetime to discover. In fact, I learnt so much that I will be posting some of their tomato wisdom later in the year. In the meantime you can discover more plant recommendations and tips from the award winning nursery owners I spoke to here.

  1. Chatsworth and Dan Pearson. A winning combination.

Chatsworth sets the standard for country houses throughout the world and Dan Pearson has massive design credentials so it seemed fitting that these two giants should occupy a prime space in the show ground. (If you are unfamiliar with Dan Pearson’s work his site is well worth a browse.)

Laurent Perrier Chatsworth garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show Laurent Perrier Chatsworth Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The design emulated Paxton’s monumental rockery and the Trout Stream in the grounds at Chatsworth. The attention to detail was so exact that I almost expected rabbit droppings on the ground in the meadow area. Orchids sprang from the sparse turf and dense mature clipped box added weight as the visitor approached the little stream before the ground rose towards the rockery.

Huge rocks gave height and drama and allowed for some interesting planting opportunities. On the east face of the rocks, Disporum longistylum ‘Green Giant’ nestled into the rock face providing just the right scale and balance to the hard landscaping.

A gold medal and the ‘Best in Show’ award seemed a foregone conclusion and the garden was an outstanding feature of a great show.

You may also like this post: Top 5 nurseries at RHS Chelsea.