Chelsea Simply Shattering

Wednesday 24th May 2017

The Gay Mother’s party (she bought the tickets but isn’t present) of Aunt Lavinia, poor little Robert Nevil, Laura Malcolm and Matt Driver are at Chelsea as we speak. I’m to join them for the dinner afterwards at Carrafini. I was there on Monday for the Press/Celebrity preview. The massive highlight was Vanesse de la Feltz’s partner’s spray-on jeans. You may remember last year on an ordinary RHS day, we had Evan Davis in an extreme booted jean look. But the partner of Vanesse de la Feltz went further. Also absolutely mega that the move to baggy (oh no! oh no!) is being repelled at the highest level.

This year there are only eight show gardens. Going round at the Press/Celebrity preview with Royston King, who knows everybody, we encountered a knight who runs Westminster. He said he’d been begged to organise a show garden. All the greatnesses in the garden world  – we had private confab with them all – were shuddering. Our greatest height by far, though, occurred beside  the Commonwealth War Graves garden in the artisan gardens section. Sir Timothy Lawrence, Her Majesty’s son-in-law! Yes, we had private audience! Were addressed personally. He was delighted to meet me, Adrian Edge. Royston gently nudged about the Keeper’s House at Greenwich. Sir Lawrence was ashamed to say he’d not been there but now he will. Access will be improved, all being well.

Back to the flowers: my highlight was Daisy Roots in the pavilion. This is the stand of a Hertfordshire nursery. Delightful. And making a huge claim, without appearing to do so: Verbascum are back. They used to be huge 25 years ago. Verbascum Helen Johnson was all the rage, being brown. Then they’d had their day. Now they’re back. New forms have been created, including one called ‘Merlin’ – an incredible dirty mauve and, to replace Helen Johnson who always died, Firedance. But don’t expect them to persist anyway. Treat as annuals. You’ll get light airy sprays early in the season when often there’s a gap to fill.  In addition try Gainsborough (sulpur yellow) and Cotswold Queen (red and yellow). They vary in size. Some get very tall. I’ve got a horrid one flowering at the moment in my garden called Rosetta – a really nasty dirty pink. But a small white one called White Bride is more or less worth having. My plants needed to be bigger. I might try to keep it for next year. The nurserywoman said Don’t let them set seed if you want them to come back.

So, Poor Little Rich Gays, here and throughout the world, grown verbascums to be rare and different.

But the showgardens – only 8 showgardens. Glaring gaps inexpertly filled with a photography exhib. Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley garden – fearsome block planting in clashing colours, ghastly great slab of a pavilion in orange wood hideously dumped in the middle of it. Maggie’s Garden – dismal grey pit. Wellington College Bursary Garden – as Royston said, is this what it’s come to: public school advertising its egalitarian aspirations? The label said, ‘The concept of breaking down the barriers to public school education lies at the heart of the garden, whilst the synaptic activity governing our thought process is also referenced.’ This last bit hoped to explain the ruinous rusty metal structures plonked over the meadow-planting (do think of something else: we’ve had enough of meadow planting). Also salvia caradonna – which was everywhere – such a dreary plant. Best in Show garden at least had nice stone. But why it is all about Malta? Why have we suddenly got to be exercised about Malta? Nobody goes there. We met the designer. He had on a thick wool three piece suit. Obviously had been planning different weather. He had it on the next day too, for the TV. Must have come up to London with only one outfit. Lovely pool in the this garden. But square stone pillars close together? You couldn’t garden between them. You couldn’t walk on them, let alone lie or sit. So what is it exactly?

Some of the gardens across the top quite nice. A cabbage patch. Sarah Raven – ‘entirely pointless’, a huge garden figure declared. We got quite keen on the Radio 2 texture garden of Jeremy Vine (he had planted one Californian poppy apparently). The designer was present: classic horticulture good-looking. V. craggy face, tiny recessed eyes, blond and bronzed of course, about 25. Immaculate stone slacks, nippy jersey polo shirt in navy. Posh yob manner. Actually from Richmond.

Even so, the garden was embryonic.

I’m very sorry to say, Chelsea is absolutely shattering this year. Shatteringly awful. And thin on the ground.

Verbascum Cotswold Queen: Chelsea's Most Important Message this Year

Verbascum Cotswold Queen: Chelsea’s Most Important Message this Year

Verbascum 'Merlin' Fabulous Vile Colour: Vital for Next Year

Verbascum ‘Merlin’ Fabulous Vile Colour: Vital for Next Year

Radio 2 Texture Garden: Quite Liked

Radio 2 Texture Garden: Quite Liked But Not These Zig-Zags

Radio 2 Texture Garden: Plain Grey Wall All Right - but don't Muck About with It

Radio 2 Texture Garden: Plain Grey Wall All Right – but don’t Muck About with It

Sarah Raven Effort: 'Entirely Pointless' a Greatness said. Also a Mess in Graphs

Sarah Raven Effort: ‘Entirely Pointless’ a Greatness said. Also a Mess in Graphs

Best in Show: What do you Think?

Best in Show: What do you Think? That’s the Designer in his Heavy Wool Suit: Nice Man 

Commonwealth War Graves Garden: Scene of Meeting and Audience with Sir Timothy Lawrence, the Queen's Son-in-Law

Commonwealth War Graves Garden: Scene of Meeting and Audience with Sir Timothy Lawrence, the Queen’s Son-in-Law

My Favourite: Floor of Sculpture Park Exhibit

My Favourite: Floor of Sculpture Park Exhibit

Chris Beardshaw: What are you Thinking of?

Chris Beardshaw: What are you Thinking of?

Chris Beardshaw: No! No! No!

Chris Beardshaw: No! No! No!

Maggie's Garden: Grey Pit

Maggie’s Garden: Grey Pit

Wellington College Synapse Brain Public School Bursary Garden

Wellington College Synapse Brain Public School Bursary Garden

Label for Wellington College Garden: Just so You Can see I haven't Made it Up

Label for Wellington College Garden: Just so You Can see I haven’t Made it Up

 

 

 

 

 

Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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