Thursday, 30 May 2019

Chelsea Flower Show

We went to members day at the Chelsea Flower Show. I must admit to not being very impressed with it. Give me Hampton Court any day. The show gardens generally are becoming very similar, with not really any new and exciting and innovative ideas in garden design. There were over twenty, and not one really deserved a champagne toast.

Rebecca's favourite, 'Facebook, Beyond The Screen'

My main complaint was that it didn't feel very 'gardeny'. Most of the designers themselves were not present, presumably because the prizes had already been handed out, and so it wasn't possible to talk with any of them about their thoughts etc. The retail outlets were far too numerous, and the emphasis seemed to be on clawing as much money from the visitors as possible.

The main overall theme appeared to come from the events sponsor, M&G Investments, and on attempting to find a quiet grassy area to enjoy our picnic, were directed along a path that ended in Raymond Blanc's rather elitist restaurant, 'Jardin Blanc'. In my personal opinion, rather vulgar.

I felt like a grumpy old moaner, and my ever loving wife and gardening partner Amanda, very carefully and graciously may I say, pointed out that just as with all of the other RHS flower shows, and more importantly this one in particular, the focus was on the commercial side of horticulture, and not on hooking up with other green fingered work horses to talk about the benefits of using Salvia superba over Lavender 'Hidcote'. 

She was correct, of course, and it reminded me of something else that's always bothered both of us.

In a day and age when just the private retail side of horticulture alone brings into this country a staggering £7.5 billion a year in revenue, why is horticulture not taken more seriously as an industry? On most official forms, such as vat registration (and every other  similarly official document), horticulture is not an option as profession, whereas laundry and animal care etc is.. Agriculture.....yes,.but anything horticultural must be entered under 'other profession'. Those who work in gardens are still occasionally referred to as 'just gardeners', when it is a profession that requires sustained and ongoing learning and training, far more so than any other profession. 

There is a book by Caroline Kline titled 'The Victorian Gardener', which partly supports the expert and varied knowledge that most career gardeners were required to have even in those times.

My favourite, the 'Dubai Majlis Garden'

There is a kind of revolution taking place on the garden maintenance front, and as a company we are one of the few taking risks to change things, so that every area of horticulture is taken seriously as a profession. It appears to be paying off.

We always find a corner for champers!

If horticulture is considered a profession not even worthy of being on most official forms, then why is there not a Chelsea equivalent for plumbing, the legal profession, building, or dare I say laundry? In a nutshell, it's because nothing matters more to the human psyche than gardening, but the powers that be refuse to recognize it. Also, big events for these other trades would be so boring!

So, my lovely wife has reminded me that if I want/need some garden time, then a visit to Heligan or East Ruston Old Vicarage are the way to go. When it's business, then the big horticultural shows. Cheers!

Rebecca, the day after Chelsea!


  1. Enjoyed sharing your visit to Chelsea. I've only ever been to the actual show once - but watched all week on TV. I think you made a lot of valid points. Thank you for posting.

    1. Hi Molly,
      The whole thing is really addictive isn't it? Thanks for your very kind comments. I try not to moan too much when something frustrates me, but sometimes my head rules my heart :)

  2. a none gardener..l was very please
    with my self, for the second year running, l
    voted for the 'peoples choice'..and it won....
    Mark Gregory's 'Welcome To Yorkshire'....It
    was most of the other gardens, a
    lot of hard work goes into the making of those
    gardens..! I watched every eight o'clock episode, missed the afternoon ones, as Mary Berry was on..and l can't be doing with her..! :(.

    So! Yeah! Over all l enjoyed it, coverage on
    the BBC was good..and l like good old Monty..
    I also enjoy Gardens World..Will l ever be a gardener..HeHe! No! But! As long as l remember
    when out i the garden..'Green side up'..l'l be o.k. :).

    Still breathing Gary! Still breathing! :).