As a student of Architecture I chose to take landscape architecture as an optional course for three years.
I did so because of my love of gardens but also because I was intrigued by the course tutor. An absolute “English gentleman of the countryside”, complete with tweed plus fours, moustache that curled up, a parting of the hair in the middle and a silver baton he looked like he walked out of a novel from the beginning of the century.
It wasn’t long before I got hooked on the summer visits to the amazing private gardens of different Lords and Ladies in their estates in Kent, all personal friends of our tutor. Of course the high light was the visit to the Chelsea flower show at the end of May. I only managed to go once as it usually coincided with the end of the year assessments.
Ever since that visit I would talk about it like I was an “habitué ». Of course I would watch different TV programs for the show every year so I really followed what was happening. Living of course 5000 miles away sort of diluted the memories until about 5 years ago, while on a business trip to London, a very good friend found me a ticket for the show. So it all started again. I would talk about my visit no end and this year Christiana bought us tickets as a Christmas gift! Best Christmas present!
Of course gardening and flowers are a national hobby for the British and visit to the Chelsea flower show is a must for the avid gardeners.
Our visit was on the 27th May 2016, the first day of the two days open to the public. The first day of course was dedicated to the Queen and the celebrations of her 90th birthday along with the VIPs. Then the press and then the members and at the end of the week two days for the public.
We started early to see as much as we could before the crowds rolled in.
There are shops and stands on every aspect of gardening, from Wellington boots to seeds, to garden furniture, but also botanical prints, garden gloves, hats, watering cans and markers for your seed beds. Then, there are the designer gardens. Astonishing how they look like they were always there, with mature planting and everything in place that was well thought even if it looks casual. Wild grasses and “weeds” were “in” this year with emphasis on preserving the natural environment (I notices that areas of Hyde Park are left untouched for the wild flowers to thrive).
These designer gardens are by landscape designers, very often known to the public by TV programs and there were a lot of crews filming around.
These gardens make people aware of how one can combine and use plants for texture, colour and volume to create mood areas (tranquillity, relaxation, happiness even frivolity).
Prizes are given and they are very important to landscape and design offices that can get instant recognition or re-establish their reputation.
Then there is the Great Hall, a very well thought contemporary marquis of 5000 square metres with stands for flowers and plants. I was very impressed with the roses, especially Austin Martin, (he turned 90 this year as well) who names a lot of his new varieties of roses after Royalty. Trend wants old fashioned casual floribunda and climbing roses with a lot of leaves and heavy scent.
My other favourite stand is a lavender stand by a lady that farms lavender in France. This time I was impressed by the red, yellow and white lavender. This year I was also impressed by the irises, probably because I grow some at Modus Vivendi Psematismenos and they do well. Nowadays they exist in all colours and combinations of colours.
Of course there are thousands of other flowers, orchids, peonies, clematis and other climbers, tropical plants, cacti and succulents and whatever plant you can think of but you can take so much at a time.
A nice light summer lunch with a glass of champagne was called for and we had a good rest (there are a lot of places to eat and drink in the grounds). We left at about 4:00 pm completely satisfied with a lot of inspiration for design and starting new gardening projects for us and our clients.
Thank you my Christiana for a wonderful Christmas present!!!!!