Chelsea Flower Show: back to earth

by Jekka McVicar

We're home after a wonderful 10 days at the Chelsea Flower Show. It was even better than I expected.

Jekka McVicar and Jamie OliverWe're home after a wonderful 10 days at the Chelsea Flower Show. It was even better than I expected. The herbs performed magnificently and they looked wonderful all week, which was especially good for those who visited our stand on Saturday.

I've many memories to cherish of our 16th Chelsea and our 13th Gold Medal, which included the visit to our stand on the Monday from the Queen.

I'm lucky enough to have met her Majesty at a number of Chelseas over the past 16 years, but this year she showed particular interest in a herb from Scotland, Meu, Meum athamanticum. This is either eaten in stews and casseroles, or the roots are simply chewed to prevent hunger.

Jekka McVicar's display of herbs in the Great PavilionWe had many other visitors, including Margaret Thatcher and Chris Tarrant. Then, early on Tuesday morning Jamie Oliver visited the stand, having taken time out from his new series. He was his normal wonderful, exuberant self and wanted to try the new culinary herbs on display. I'm always impressed by his energy and his efforts to inspire us to eat well.

From the heady heights of Chelsea it's comforting to return to the herb farm and back to earth. I've spent the past few days cutting back the returned show plants and putting them back outside. I've also been cutting back next year's stock, which has been bashed by the recent gales and torrential rain. This helps protect the crown and shape of the plants, so hopefully they'll be ready for next year. I'm worried the rough weather will affect my flower stock for the forthcoming Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

While I won't be doing another exhibit in the Pavilion for a while, I'm applying to the RHS to create a show garden at Chelsea next year, which will highlight the power of plants. I will be working with the wonderful Cleve West, whose BUPA garden not only got a gold medal but was also awarded this year's 'People's Choice'.

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Gardeners' World Web User 31/05/2008 at 11:18

Please can you tell me what the piece of music that was played at the end of the gardeners world programme on friday 24 -5 08 on bbc2 at 8pm

Gardeners' World Web User 11/06/2009 at 20:15

Hey Jekka, lucky you to get a cuddle with the lovely Jamie:-) Your pavilion display looked absolutely lovely on TV,(gnome or no gnome!) looking forward to seeing your garden at Hampton Court. Quick question... I have two pots of basil, one red and one sweet, on my kitchem windowsill. Both have lost half of the seedlings, each on only one side of the pot. They seemed to just die back/shrivel up. Other half is fine. No sign of bugs. Any ideas?

Gardeners' World Web User 11/06/2009 at 20:17

Me again - somehow I don't think her Maj is going to need the chewy root to stave off feelings of hunger anytime soon! Might be helpful for dieters tho!

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:31

So sorry to hear that Monty will not be seen on Gardeners World. He will be missed. Maybe he will visit occasionally! Meanwhile, perhaps, Carole Klein can step into his boots-she is SO enthusiastic and such a good communicator. I remember seeing her in her gold medal winning garden-and she was wonderful with all the admiring public-she wasn't a seasoned tv presenter then! Am enjoying GW as I type this-for goodness sake, don't change anything much-we like continuity and we do not want to see any 'dumbing down' - let somebody else do that! Good luck with the continued success of GW, and the Chelsea coverage was great-more plant info please, but understand time is short-and tons to see.Best wishes