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The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2011


by James Alexander-Sinclair

Just in case you have been in a surgically induced coma or trekking up hidden valleys amongst deep jungle, I must remind you that this is Chelsea Flower Show week.


Cleve West's Daily Telegraph GardenJust in case you have been in a surgically induced coma or trekking up hidden valleys amongst deep jungle, I must remind you that this is Chelsea Flower Show week. Garden designers, nurserymen and builders have been beavering away in the grounds of the Royal Hospital preparing the most spectacular show on earth.

Here are some snippets from my Chelsea diary:

Tuesday 17 May: I went and loitered around during build up - where we found time to make our latest Three Men Went to Mow video. During build up it is dusty, noisy, and heaving with industrious folk and a lot of beautifully choreographed lorries (each one has to arrive at a particular time to avoid complete chaos). There were also diggers, wheelbarrows, cranes, trolleys full of exquisite plants, men brandishing pickaxes and paintbrushes, officials with radios and, every so often, some blokes getting under everybody's feet.

Monday 23 May: And now look at it, all primped and perfect and generally gorgeous, sparkling in the reflected sunshine and gasps of admiration. Which plant would not flourish under the beneficent gaze of Ringo Starr or Floella Benjamin? I have just had a bit of a pre-judgement wander around the place and I am stunned by the quality of most of the show. Mind you, if I was not, then it would not really be doing its job very well. Stunnedness (if such a word existed)  should be the default setting of all visitors to Chelsea.

I am most excited by Cleve West’s Daily Telegraph Garden. It is difficult not to be swayed by the fact that he is a friend of mine, but the combination of spectacular hard landscaping - the paths are lumpy and look like ancient Roman pavements allowed to bake and settle in the sun for hundreds of years while the concrete columns are fantastic - and Cleve’s divine planting is, I think, wonderful. I then had to go and do some work - the results of which can be seen if you press your Red Button after the BBC programmes on Tuesday and Thursday night.

Tuesday 24 May: Fast forward to Tuesday morning: at around 7am an RHS official comes round giving out the medals. It used to be a man in a bowler hat riding a bicycle but, nowadays, it is more likely to be one of the delightful Shows Department staff. This the moment that television loves... there are tears, surprise, excitement, jeopardy and emotion.

Cleve, as I suspected, won Best in Show.

For the rest of the medals, both nurseries and show gardens, see the RHS website.

View our Chelsea 2011 image gallery.

View our Chelsea exhibitors image gallery.



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Talkback: The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2011
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Gardeners' World Web User 25/05/2011 at 03:27

I can only say, Ihave never been to the Chelsea flower show only ever watched on TV but enjoy every moment of the programme.All the gardens are lovely but the amount of money that is spent on them so they should be, not many of us would be able to take them home. they are all a joy to behold, one day maybe I will see it live.good on the people growing the plants.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/05/2011 at 14:24

Alan Tidmarsh said yesterday that "THEY" (whoever "THEY" are)said Carol Klein was not enthusiastic !I beg to disagree, I think she is a really good presenter of gardening and I always enjoy it when she is on the television.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/05/2011 at 01:22

I just put 'compost' in the search engine, hoping to find out what was good to include and what was unadvisable, and it came up with no results..... surely not???? Am I doing something wrong?

Gardeners' World Web User 26/05/2011 at 07:32

Rosieglow,try "gardeners compost" in your search engine. You'll have enough reading to keep you going till the rain stops.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/05/2011 at 14:17

Lovely to see the gardens and the plants. I am a member of NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangers - tell Alan the name has changed!) I am passionate about gardens and gardening but would love to see some of the work done by NAFAS members. There is a large stand and two competitions and we are affiliated to the RHS. Surely that merits 15 minutes out of the many hours coverage?

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