The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

Posted: Monday 19 May 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Chelsea gardens are cleverly designed stage sets. But we can take bits of them home with us: an idea, a view, a combination, or in this case, a tree.

We're being bombarded with horticulture. Our newspapers, television screens, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and general consciousness are being tickled, fluffed, excited and swamped with amazing plants, gardens and spectacle.

This is, of course, because this week is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, featuring 11 hours of television to keep us amused. It's the one week of the year when gardening becomes news, and a jolly good thing too. I won't add to the avalanche much but I just wanted to mention one thing.

Chelsea gardens are an unobtainable goal for most of us: they're cleverly designed and perfectly constructed stage sets. None of us are ever going to be able to recreate them at home in their entirety. However, what we can do is take little bits of them home with us. An idea, a combination, a view or, in this case, a tree.

Amelanchier canadensis is one of the best garden trees available, and Luciano Giubbilei has two cracking specimens in the garden he is building for Laurent Perrier. They're each about five metres wide and many decades old. Luciano found them in a nursery in Belgium and fell in love on the spot. After many tribulations and much anxiety on behalf of the nursery, the landscapers and the trucking company, they've arrived at the showground and take pride of place in Luciano’s garden. (You can track the progress here.)

The trees are native to North America where they grow from Canada to Alabama, mostly on damper sites. They rejoice in a number of common names including Shadbush, Serviceberry and, my favourite, Chuckleberry.

What you need from a garden tree is as much value as possible. Cherry trees are lovely, but only for the very short time when they're flowering. The leaves tend to be a bit dreary for the remaining weeks of the summer. Amelanchier have the edge because not only do they have very charming emerging leaves with a mulberry coloured blush to the green and stunning while blossom – simple starry flowers – but they also have the most amazing autumn colour.

Three hits in one tree: you don’t get much better than that. Except in America, where you also get edible fruit.

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Talkback: The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014
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little-ann 22/05/2014 at 17:46

thank you James for some common sense regarding show gardens

MrsGarden 22/05/2014 at 18:11

Any more details Ann? I haven't watched all the shows yet.

little-ann 22/05/2014 at 18:31

i commented on the above blog by James Alexander Sinclair Mrs Garden forgetting it would post onto the forum

happymarion 24/05/2014 at 21:53

Not just in America, James. Many a berry has been nibbled by me in the Bristol Univ. Botanic Garden where there are two very fine specimens!

GWRS 24/05/2014 at 22:44

Only been to Chelsea once many years ago , great day out , however , must remember it is a show

like to watch it on the TV , I think it has been particularly good this year , not to many gimmicky gardens