Chelsea 2010: my verdict

by Kate Bradbury

I don't think I have a hope of achieving the 'Chelsea look'. My garden is far too scruffy, most of my plants have been nibbled by caterpillars...

The Cancer Research UK Garden, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010. Image by Jason IngramIf only our gardens could really look like those at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Plunge pools and outdoor kitchen areas aside, I don't think I have a hope of achieving the 'Chelsea look'. My garden is far too scruffy, most of my plants have been nibbled by caterpillars and I don't have any white foxgloves.

The planting schemes in many of the gardens this year were superb. The Bradstone Biodiversity Garden was richly planted with cirsium, alliums, aquilegia and iris, and it seemed to be doing the job, I noted a couple of honeybees foraging for nectar. I liked the HESCO garden, the centre of which was a canal lock (complete with leaky canal bursting through), and consisted of three areas: a floral meadow, woodland and wetland.

I was impressed by The Eden Project Places of Change Garden. It was full of recycled materials, such as washing machine parts and scrap wood, and there was even a greenhouse made entirely of used plastic bottles. I'm not sure I'd want them all in my garden though, especially the pathways made from broken glass and brick pieces. But its message was inspiring: you can put almost anything to good use.

The Global Stone Bee Friendly Plants Garden proved that not all bee-friendly plants are 'weeds'; they can be striking, ornamental plants that work well in a formal planting scheme. The bed of French lavender at the front of the garden was abuzz with honeybees, while the early bumblebee, Bombus pratorum, gorged on cirsium at the rear. Other plants worthy of note included Centaurea montana, Echinops ritro, Knautia macedonica and Trifolium repens 'Purpurascens'.

My favourite garden was the Cancer Research UK Garden. Amid the heat and clamour of the day, it provided an air of tranquillity that I didn't find elsewhere. I wished that I could have spent just five minutes sitting beneath the birch trees gazing at the beautiful, but simple planting scheme of white foxgloves, astrantia, snowy woodrush and cranesbill (Geranium phaeum 'Album').

I spent the day wishing I could replicate some of this Chelsea perfection in my own garden. But then it wouldn't be mine. I like my scruffy, battered, half-eaten plants. I like the fact that there are caterpillars available for the birds to feed their chicks with, though I could do without the pigeons trampling on my persicaria. But I will be buying some white foxgloves. However shabby they end up looking, they will remind me of the glamour of the show gardens at Chelsea.

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Gardeners' World Web User 25/05/2010 at 15:33

Chelsea is fantasy land where we can all dream - these gardens need massive budgets, perfect plots, huge construction and unreal planting. They give us ideas, inspiration and appreciation of what we have in our own little plot. Enjoy it for what it is and accept that no ordinary mortal has chelsea perfection. Ours gardens are perfect - because we love them!

Gardeners' World Web User 26/05/2010 at 08:32

Anyone inspired by Chelsea to create woodland can get help, advice and possibly funding from the Woodland Trust, now offering nearly four decades of native tree planting expertise externally. From a copse to a forest, a nature-friendly mix of trees will help biodoversity and boost wildlife - bees, bugs and biggie beasties - with benefits from the day of planting.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/05/2010 at 20:01

...inspired by Chelsea, I'd like to learn more about indoor plants. I have an east facing flat with no garden, only a small balcony. Can anyone advise where to start? I have bamboo but looking for something more colourful ... Many thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/05/2010 at 20:35

Fed up with all these men telling us what to do, or rather over-dressed dolly birds! The only interesting woman gardener/presenter I saw, was marvellous! Slightly fat, middle-aged and wearing glasses! She was REAL- (a friend of Alan Titchmarsh) - unfortunately don't know her name. Let's face it, most gardeners are women. Not young pretty young girls, who are extremely irritating and not particularly knowledgeable. This woman WAS. Can we see more of her, please

Gardeners' World Web User 28/05/2010 at 09:05

The garden I would most like to have was Roger Platts. I always love Tom Stuart-Smith's designs too, and have several plants in my garden that I only heard about through him. However, how long before that lovely rectangle of water is covered in algae, duckweed, and general detritis - or is there some magic way to prevent this happening? And weren't those irises in pots in Andy's garden goreous too!

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