Friday, June 22, 2012

Chelsea Flower Show 2012 and the Gardens of Dorset

Another wonderful year at Chelsea!  Below is a quick tour of some of the gardens, products and the Great Pavilion.  Please join me for a quick stroll through the gardens!

Best of Show garden from Cleve West for Berwin Dolphin Company. 

The garden used controlled structures including beech hedging and yew topiary to contrast with the looser layers of herbaceous planting. Alliums. Queen Anne's Lace, Geranium phaeum 'Walkure' were the dominate plantings.

Water flowed from the fountain in the back and streamed down the rills at each side of the pathway. 

Nigel Nunnett's Blue Water Garden for the Royal Bank of Canada showcased inventive urban rainwater management in keeping the projects goal of a 10-year global commitment to help protect the world's most precious natural resource, water.  The conical dry stone, self-supporting roof was built by master designer Mark Gregory.  Each evening the BBC broadcasts an hour of Chelsea and the first night they showed Mark building this structure, stone by stone.  It was amazing to see that there was no supporting structure!  Again, the plantings are very loose in contrast to the hardscape.....a repeated theme this year at Chelsea.

Arne Maynard's Garden for Laurent-Perrier below.  The buzz at the show was that this is the garden that should have won 'Best of Show'. 
The highlight of this garden was the 'L' shaped pleached beech all the special guests drinking Laurent-Perrier champagne in the garden while everyone else melted in the heat!

More topiary above with loose planting!  For this garden, there was a combination of 27 perennials.  Crocus Nursery again supplied the plants for Laurent-Perrier as well as many other show gardens.  The colors were mauves, deep purples and dusty pinks.  They beautifully complimented the copper beech hedge.  You can go to and get the entire plant list.

Joe Swift's garden for Homebase Teenage Cancer Association below, won gold for the four bold cedar wood frames which create long views through the garden.  These frames created snapshots that varied as you moved around the garden.

The iris in Joe Swift's garden was spectacular along with Chocolate Cosmos, Verbascum 'Clementine' and Rosa 'Burgandy Ice'.  Each garden designer provides a schematic of the garden and the plant list.  They often spend some part of the day at the garden talking to the crowds.

The M and G Garden below (M and G is Chelsea's main sponsor for the entire show) was designed by Andy Sturgeon.  The show stopper was the 'Energy Wave' sculpture crafted in copper rings.  A series of formal linear paths and terraces combined with a mirrored water channel to create a succession of garden rooms.

Formal topiary and lush soft plantings such as Astrantia 'Roma', Euphorbia palustris, Geranium 'Gravetye' and Geum 'Album' were mixed with common meadow plants such as Milk Parsley and Hog's Fennel for the M and G garden above.

Once again this year the garden from Australia didn't disappoint.  Another Gold Medal winner from Trail Finders and Flemming's Nursery below.  Phormium cookianum 'Tricolor', P. tenax 'All Black', Cordyline australis, Cycas revoluta, Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata', Woodwardia radicans and Dodonea viscosa 'Purpurea' created drama in the garden and were an interesting relief from all the 'meadow' planting in the show gardens.

These corten steel leaf sculptures accent the Phormiums and Palm trees.

Above was a real crowd pleaser.  This entry by Jo Thompson for the Caravan Club, celebrated the great English tradition of 'Caravaning'  These antique Caravan's are now used as garden rooms, offices and playhouses for children.  Note once again, the loose, romantic plantings and the dog house on the left.

Chelsea wouldn't be complete without the fabulous selection of garden art and structures that make English gardens so remarkable.  I wish we could bring many of these products to America.  Chelsea has rows upon rows of everything from containers to pergolas to Gazebos.  Below are examples from various vendors.

Can't you see these fish swimming through the grasses of a John Greenlee Garden?

Rachel Carter is the young artist/creator of these willow sculptures.  Many were featured in the Chelsea show gardens this year.  She is excited about exhibiting in the March 2013 Philadelphia Flower and Garden Show and wondering how she will ship everything to the US!

One of the many fountain vendors at Chelsea.

The Artisan Gardens

Each year, crowd favorites at Chelsea are the Artisan Gardens.  These gardens are meant to show what can be achieved in a smaller space and often on a low budget.  Satoyama Life sponsored a garden by the designer Ishihara Kazuyuki from Japan.  The garden pays homage to the people living between the low lands and the mountains who lost their lives in the tsunami last year. The crowds were so deep at this garden that you had to wait a bit to work your way in to the front!

Long ago, Japanese daily life and nature were closely linked.  Satoyama Life reflects this simple lifestyle and expresses the importance of living in harmony with nature.  This wall above was built, stone by stone from rocks gathered on the beaches in Japan.

The Artisan Garden from Plankbridge Hutmaker's takes its inspiration from the beautiful Dorset countryside immortalized by the writer, Thomas Hardy.  These shepherd's huts are now used as offices and garden gazebos in the city and country.

Above is the entry from the town of Yorkshire called 'The Brontes' Yorkshire Garden. The bleak garden pays homage to the 165th year anniversary of the publication of the Bronte sister's most famous works; Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Jane Grey.

The Great Pavilion

A visit to Chelsea would be incomplete without a visit to the Great Pavilion where nurseries from all over the world are proud to display plants that have been grown on their own premises. I am just amazed by the fact that every blossom in the place is at its most perfect during the show. 

This Lily vendor was the gold medal winner for Chelsea 2012.  The lily in the center was as big as a dinner plate.

Clematis towers.

Tulip mania.

The Nursery entry from South Africa was spectacular.  They did a mural of each region's topography and matched the plants to the region.

Even vegetables compete for the Gold!

Final notes on Chelsea 2012.  Again it's just amazing how much work goes into the gardens and displays.  Designers and contractors take weeks to build the gardens and this year was particularly difficult because it rained until just three days before the show.  Reading the reviews of the show, it's clear that however beautiful, many people want to return to a simpler time when Chelsea gardens weren't so grand.  The show gardens often cost as much as 250 pounds sterling (almost $375,000 US dollars to install).  A far cry from the budgets of most attendees! 

A Selection of Private Gardens in Dorset

Now for a few pictures of the gardens of Dorset.  Most of the gardens our tour group visited were private homes and each homeowner feted us with tea and scones in the morning or tea and cake in the afternoon!  I've never eaten so much and lost weight!  It had to be all the walking we did!  Our tour company was Boxwood Tours ( and everything about the tour was first class!

Shute House - The house dates to the 15th Century and the current garden was designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe and is a complex series of garden rooms.

This inter planting on the patio is very common in England.  I'd love to try it here in the states.

Jellicoe's rill at Shute House

The Old Rectory at Pulham

Time for Tea on the kitchen patio!

Cranborne Manor

John Tradescant laid out this garden in the 1600's.

A bucolic scene through the hedge at Cranborne Manor.

Stainbridge Mill - Below an Arabella Lennox-Boyd garden

Take a stroll through the Chestnut trees at Stainbridge Mill!  Mowers easily cut paths through the grasses.

Grange Cottage.  An astronomer's garden of earthly delights below.  After a cool drink of Elderberry soda, the owners took us on a tour of the garden they love so much!

Farr's, below the garden of furniture maker John Makepeace.  A modern masterpiece.

A magnificent stainless steel sculpture by the designer John Makepeace.  His private garden is just past the Yew hedge.

My favorite!  The Old Rectory at Netherbury belowThe Old Rectory was featured in the June issue of Traditional Home Magazine. Simone, a barrister in London and Amanda, a restorer of art on paper and the designer of the garden, lovingly tend this garden with the help of only one gentleman. 

These mulch paths meandered through out the garden and were dappled with cooling shade on a very hot day!

Chiff Chaffs Garden - Below, Mr. Potts' Paradise.  Mrs. Potts was Graham Stewart Thomas' secretary for years!  My second favorite garden.  Graham Stewart Thomas started the garden Monttisfont Abby where he planted all the old roses he could find that were falling out of favor due to the development of the hybrid teas in the 50's.

Our walk along the hills at Chiff Chaffs.  Mr. Potts created a wonderful Rhododendron and Azalea dell on his hill.

A view from top of the garden.  Nothing like the English Countryside.

Pen Mill Farm

Penn Mill Farm garden getting ready to bloom!

The Foley at Penn Mill Farm looking back to the house.

The lake at Pen Mill Farm

 Saying good bye to our hosts at Pen Mill and the Dorset countryside after tea, egg salad sandwiches and cake!

Our hotel in Dorset, the Plumber Manor...soft beds and good food!  

The best traveling companions a girl could have!

 Our Last Days in Kent and Sissinghurst

Our wonderful host, Rosemary Alexander's home and garden.

The Dove Cote at Nyman's

Sissinghurst's Hot Garden

Christopher Lloyd's Great Dixter below

Our farewell breakfast at the Delightful Sissinghurst Castle Farm House.  A must stay if you ever visit the garden.  Sue Thompson is hotelier extraordinaire!

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Blogger Laurie Callaway said...

Thanks to Mary for a great trip!

June 22, 2012 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Leslie Lloyd said...

Laurie, this is fantastic. I see so many things I would love to do. Alas, I have to wait a couple of years to really get into the landscape - have to build the house, then make a few dollars to afford to deal with the outside!

June 25, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Greenhills Nursery Ltd said...

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June 14, 2021 at 10:51 PM  

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