I've just got home after spending yesterday at Chelsea. I enjoyed myself - lots of lovely plants, friendly co-visitors and a lovely atmosphere but I did find the designs of the main gardens very repetitive and lacking innovation. Most even used the same plants and colour palette though in different ways. Lots of irises, alliums, peonies, astrantias as usual and, this year, bright blue anchusas which I've sown for my own garden this year. How did they know?
My favorite main garden was the Help for Heroes because it felt right and was beautifully planted but had space to walk and sit and enjoy it. The most sumptuous planting was the Stoke-On-Trent garden with cool whites, creams and greens at one end morphing into rich reds and bronzes at the other. The Cloudy Bay garden had some luscious plant combintaions too but too many ornamental grasses dominating the other pants and masking the colours. The First Touch garden had wonderful plant combinations and I felt the terracing using metal strips to hold the levels was do-able by ordinary gardeners and could be made curvy and softer and more sinuous if desired for both the terracing and the water pools.
The Laurent Perrier that won best in show had too much hard landscaping and to me felt too cool and hard and uninviting except for the one bed full of creamy lupins. I like a garden to feel welcoming and fun. The Daily Telegraph Italiniate garden was so neat and tidy and so refined and controlled it felt sterile. AT's Britain in Bloom garden was very clever and I really liked the Yorkshire moors leading down to the beach but not so much the beach planting which was all too wussy to survive in my garden. Beach hut to die for though.
The most ingenious designs this year were in the Artisans gardens - another wonderful Japanese garden but the best for me was the Potters' garden which was full of lovely touches from the use of a row of curved tiles in the kiln to make a pattern in the bricks to the plants growing on the roof tiles, the paths made from broken pots and the water butt plus some good planting.
Lots of lovely stuff in the floral pavillion from stunning plants, flowers, fruit and veg to the Birmingham city steam train and aircraft and the fun of the agricultural students' dress designs using plant material.
I've come away with some great inspiration for plant and colour combos for adapting in my garden and some new lily bulbs, a few packs of seeds and 2 peony supports, 2 hanging baskets and a gekko. Came home to find we'd had a major hailstorm last night and my prize hostas in pots have been shredded and other plants blown over so lots to check and fix tomorrow.