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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013

PUBLISHED: 16:16 16 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:57 16 July 2013

Chris Beardshaw's Arthiritis Research Garden - winner of People's Choice Award, Show Gardens

Chris Beardshaw's Arthiritis Research Garden - winner of People's Choice Award, Show Gardens

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Celebrating 100 years... words and photographs by Joy Hales

It seems fitting that the most spectacular feature of the 100th anniversary RHS Chelsea Flower Show should have been the flowers themselves. Whether this was down to the cold winter, late spring or the exceptional skill of the growers I don’t know, but the result was a glorious vibrant Great Pavilion display that it was hard to tear yourself away from. All the Show, Artisan and Fresh Gardens also benefited from the perfection of the plants with beautiful and unusual combinations of colour and texture, and an abundant use of native British plants at the peak of perfection.

All in all it was another oustanding year. Gold medals were awarded to 10 Show, four Artisan and six Fresh Gardens, and the displays in the Great Pavilion netted an impressive 62 golds. Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Fleming’s was named Best Show Garden, a feat of engineering on the Rock Bank with its floating metal studio space, emphasis on sustainability and attention to detail down to the echoing sound of ‘Aussie’ frogs. Chris Beardshaw’s emotional, spiritual and uplifting ‘journey’ garden for Arthritis Research UK won visitors’ hearts and was declared People’s Choice. Other highlights were Roger Platts’ ‘Windows through Time’ for sponsors M&G, an elegant composition of new and traditional, while ‘Stop the Spread’ forcefully conveyed the message of the huge impact pests, diseases and invasive non-native species can have on our gardens and countryside. The Artisan gardens again spun their magic tucked away in Ranelagh Gardens: Best Artisan going to the Japanese design, An Alcove (Tokonoma) Garden which depicted a traditional tatami room, and People’s Choice to Le Jardin de Yorkshire (in honour of next year’s visit by the Tour de France). ‘After the Fire’ took the Best Fresh garden award with an interpretation of forest regeneration.

The Plant of the Year was Mahonia eurybrachteata ‘Soft Caress’ while Geranium Rozanne (‘Gerwat’) was declared Plant of the Centenary. In the Great Pavilion the Diamond Jubilee Award went to Warmenhoven’s display of alliums and amaryllis and the President’s Award to Blackmore & Langdon for their delphinium and begonia display.

Representing the county, Derbyshire Bonsai took an impressive Silver-Gilt Flora for their elegant stand; Derbyshire-born Robert Hardy celebrated an 18th gold meal for Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants; Ilkeston’s Rachel Carter was awarded a certificate of commendation for her prettily arranged stand of woven willow sculptures, which included her new cast bronze sculpture which will be donated to the Derwent Valley Heritage Site; and Alison Doxey from Belph, near Whitwell, was the delighted recipient of a silver medal in the Florist of the Year competition for her design on the theme ‘Never-ending Circle’.

The first Chelsea Show in 1913 took place in a single tent, cost £3,365 to stage and made a profit of £88. The last 100 years have seen many changes but it still seems incredible that such an amazing show can be built from scratch in 19 days and dismantled in five, and there is no doubt that any returning Edwardians wouldn’t fail to recognise that the passion and the ‘flower power’ lives on!

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