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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Press Day at RHS Chelsea in the Grand Pavilion

Even though it was hot outside at Chelsea, it was beautifully cool inside the Great Pavilion. Less densely packed than previous years, there was an unusually airy feel and individual stands were easier to find.

Mind you, you couldn't miss the Hillier Nurseries stand which dominated the pavilion, and no wonder it won another gold from the judges, just as the Hillier stand has done so for the last 72 consecutive years.. What looked like a cool grey, giant, helical spring slinky toy, provided an usual bower to sit and ponder.

The surrounding planting of trees, shrubs, climbers and perennials was lush and plentiful and there were two paeonies which I wanted to dig up and take home. "Sarah Bernardt", with the palest of pink blowsy charm was really showing off and I also liked this "Krinkled White.

The Burncose Nursery stand is always worth a good look and this year proved no exception.

My favourite stand however was the David Austin Roses rose garden which also was awarded a gold medal. A delicious drift of the scent of hundreds of roses  on the air wafted my way, drawing me to the stand....

So cleverly designed and planted, seeing so many roses at the peak of their perfection was an absolute delight. I wanted to sit awhile, to inhale the heady scent and feast my eyes on the pretty pinks, the calming whites and creams and the pale yellow and apricot shades .

But no, there was far too much to do - I did manage to catch Alys Fowler, one of my favourite gardening columnists, for a quick interview under the rambling roses on the stand though.

I adored the Guernsey Clematis Nursery stand too. Beautiful waves of clematis cascaded at shoulder height as I walked through the stand. The pink streaked "Corinne" and the deep lavender "Parisienne" from the Boulevard collection caught my eye.

It was there that I met the delightful Rosemary Powell and her son Tony, who were admiring the clematis. Apparently Rosemary has been a customer of this nursery for many years, and cross bred some clematis creating new plants, naming them after her grandchildren.

Apparently this is Rosemary's 84th visit to the Chelsea Flower Show...the only years she didn't visit were during the Second World War when Chelsea was cancelled. Now I'm not one to ask a woman's age...after all, it should be classified information. But I did have to ask Rosemary how old she was, and the answer was 102.

Rosemary and I have agreed to meet up next year.

So, these were my highlights from the Grand Pavilion this year, but I didn't see it all in detail unfortunately. There was simply to much to do workwise - I couldn't even look at the trade stands let alone do any shopping. Literally, there was time for a 20 minute break to have something to eat and go to the loo. And that was it!

I'm not complaining though, because being at RHS Chelsea is a delight, an inspiration. For one week, this is the horticultural hub of the world, it's dynamic, it's packed with such creative and passionate people  and I couldn't miss this amazing annual experience.

Above all, it's fun! Where else could I have a chat with some walking and talking trees?

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