Monday, 28 May 2012

Festival fever in London & The Chelsea Flower Show

Wondering what to do with your bedding plants this year?
Hello all!
I'm back!
What a terrific week it was in London. Despite almost melting onto the pavement from the incredible heat I loved every minute of it. Great pub grub, great history, beautiful buildings and parks, delicious snacks on every corner and the worlds politest people. London is gearing up for the Queens big party and the Olympics so the atmosphere is hugely festive and happy, the streets are so clean it's amazing! and everywhere is decorated with festive bunting and ye old union jacks. Couldn't be a better time to visit! No I'm not on commission unfortunately, but if anyone in the UK or London wants to pay me just get in touch.

Joe Swifts beautiful garden-loved the three connected pools
And so on to the main business of Chelsea itself. Well fecking hell it was hot, I mean boiling-Greek-Islands-hot. And it did not cool down as the day went on.The throngs of people were a sight to see. My Dad worked in London years ago and he said the crowds on the streets reminded him of the day of the Fleadh!! (big yearly traditional Irish music event for ye non-Irish) So day of the Fleadh it was- multiplied by about 1000!

It was hot and sunny and very crowded. There was loads to see, from long shopping areas to the show gardens, to trade displays, to the huge grand pavilion full of specialist and mad stuff and a nice big park with a bandstand, loads of seating and a cheery band belting out old 50s rock and roll.

There was a brilliant free cloakroom service to put your bag away while you walked around, in the end I gave them my jacket too and Mary gave them her coat and cardigan! Loads of people wore light summery gear, I felt bad for those in jeans and heavier clothing, they must have sweated buckets.

Irises were the stars of the show
It seemed to me that the catering had been well expanded this year. The last time I came a few years ago there were queues for food and for sitting areas. This year it seemed to be no problem, there was mobile catering in lots of places and restaurants if you wanted those too. Eileen's Mike made me smile when he told me he was dying for chips! what a crackpot! all I wanted was pimms or ice cream, and from what I saw sales of both were through the roof!!

The show gardens were amazing as always, I think without being there you get that from the BBC coverage on TV. At Diarmuid Gavin's pyramid westland garden a slightly portly Dermot O'Neill was on the door chatting to passersby and patiently answering questions while the great man himself/total plonker (depending on your point of view) partied inside with celebs taking turns down the slide and screaming their heads off. It was all a bit bizarre and somehow(to me at least) rude. My mother in law was delighted to shake hands and chat with Dermot O' Neill. As I waited for her I was nearly knocked over by Goldie who still giddy from his swift slide exit looked like it was the best fun he's had in years. Whats wrong with these z listers, don't they get out?

Diarmuids pie in the sky-literally! there was a cafe in there!
Joe Swift was in his medal winning garden with two ladies in tow, one looked like his Mum! They were busy taking pictures, even famous presenters have proud mums. In the Australian garden the BBC were filming a slot with the garden designer so it was hard to get a good look in while they were cluttering the place up with cameras and crew. There was a great old atmosphere of relaxed enjoyment, despite the heat and the crowds.

By 5pm I was wrecked. We took refuge from the still roasting sun on a shady bank and watched what can only be described as the "Chelsea shuffle", People who could hardly walk, had blisters and were probably suffering from sheer exhaustion from being out 13 hours in the sun. It was comforting to know I wasn't the only one banjaxed after the day. By 7 it was time to go to the pub or we were in danger of losing the will to live. An hour later-jug of pimms in front of me and dinner on the way I was almost back to life. My feet were wrecked for the rest of the week. Be warned ye Chelsea gowers of the future wear runners!

And so the main points from Chelsea 2012 (according to me);

Thank God for Pimms and Pubs!

  • Irises are in fashion, they even printed one on the tickets and on the free souvenir canvas bag.They were always cool plants anyway, being in fashion is sure to make them unfashionable in record time, so if you like irises say nothing about how "bang on trend" you are, you will be uncool again in no time I promise.
  • There is a society for delphinium lovers! brilliant, I love a whole group of crackpots together. If I had an unhealthy fixation on delphiniums I'd be delighted to join them.
  • The environment, bees and recycling were hugely on the agenda-great news for gardeners everywhere. There is a petition by friends of the earth to the UK PM to help preserve and plant wildlife plants for bees. They generously gave out seeds to everyone who visited their stand. Is anyone doing something similar in Ireland?
  • Old roses are making a comeback! the Laurent Perrier garden featured Reine des Violette's and Louise Odier. I'd love to see them make a comeback. Discovered an old rose myself at the Peter Beals stand called Archiduc Joseph-twas love at first sight, mentally picking out a spot for it already.
  • There is a new disease to watch out for, a very earnest man gave me a test kit and asked me to let them know if its spread to Ireland-they are monitoring it in the UK its called phytophthora ramorum(cousin of potato blight) and its a right bastard of a thing, with no known cure.It has another cousin photophthora kernoviae thart is just as evil. They affect lots of common garden plants. Look both up on
  • covering your car with grass or putting plants in the engine is very cool! As is using your old runners as planters. The recycling stand in the great pavilion was amazing.
  • I think the flower arrangers have a sinister desire to convert anyone to flower arranging-I was waylaid in the flower arranging shop by an enthuastic woman who tried to talk me into joining them despite every verbal hurdle I could throw in front of her. I only just escaped by making a solem promise to check out the website!If it was an olympic sport shed have taken the gold for sure!

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