RHS Chelsea Flower Show
PUBLISHED: 13:34 19 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:30 20 February 2013
All worries about the weather proved unfounded as Chelsea arrived with a burst of sunshine and growers defied a difficult start to the year to produce show-stopping displays. Words and photographs by Joy Hales
All worries about the weather proved unfounded as Chelsea arrived with a burst of sunshine and growers defied a difficult start to the year to produce show-stopping displays. Touches of Jubilee spirit further enlivened the showground. A visit on press day finds you caught up in the slightly surreal sport of celebrity spotting, in between marvelling at the perfection of the flowers and admiring the skill and imagination of the designers then there are impressive trade stands to explore and Derbyshire faces to hunt for!
In the Great Pavilion 55 gold awards were given, with the Jubilee Award going to a spectacular display of lilies by HW Hyde, while RHS Plant of the Year went to a foxglove, Illumination Pink from Thompson & Morgan. The Brewin Dolphin Garden won one of 12 show garden gold medals and best in show for designer Cleve West for the second year running. Its combination of English country garden themes and a contemporary twist was also found in Arne Maynards lovely garden for Laurent Perrier (Arne is the designer currently transforming Haddon Halls wonderfully atmospheric gardens), and Andy Sturgeons Arts and Crafts inspired creation. Shades of the Italian Renaissance appeared in RHS Peoples Choice award-winners the Arthritis Research UK garden, while Britain in the 1950s was brought to the fore in Jo Thompsons design for the Caravan Club. Chris Beardshaw brought back a 50s favourite, rhododendrons, in a beautifully put-together celebration of Furzey Gardens. Joe Swifts mix of colour and materials achieved an elegant and sophisticated garden that you found yourself returning to again and again. For sense of place, however, the most moving creation was Jihae Hwangs wilderness garden inspired by the Korean Demilitarised Zone. Surrounded by rusting wire entwined with plants, a watchtower at its centre and sprinkled with the detritus of warfare being overcome by nature, it had a spell-binding stillness and atmosphere that made you stop and catch your breath.
Peoples choice in the small gardens was The Bronts Yorkshire Garden, its choice of native flowers a theme that ran throughout many of the gardens. I must also mention the Best Artisan award winner, the immaculate moss and cobble Satoyama Life garden by Kazuyuki Ishihara, which also had a touch of the magic that is Chelsea Flower Show.