I love Chelsea Flower Show. Exhibiting there was part of my job when I first joined the gardening industry (which I suppose makes me a professional exhibitionist….) and it is all about the roar of the crowd and the smell of the greasepaint. Or rather, the beep of reversing wagons, the smell of the bark mulch and that pre-gig fizz of excitement.
In amongst all the perfection and catwalk horticulture, Chelsea has never been a particularly kitchen gardeny sort of show. There might be a romantic tumbledown gardener’s cottage with ye olde self-set veg plants, but other than that it was over to the Great Pavilion to eye up Ken Muir’s strawberries. Perfect, scarlet, fantastically scented, tantalising…and the ultimate in standoffish noli me tangere show fruit. You get your wrists slapped at the very thought of eating one.
But this year it is promising to be different. On the show garden front Bunny Guinness will be building a stylish potager for the M&G Garden – a stylish take on the traditional Kitchen Garden and B&Q will be demonstrating how you can bring every space into food production with an 8m vertical tower garden. Elsewhere Jekka McVicar will be launching her new blends of organic herbal tea and W Robinson and Son will be showing the climbing courgette ‘Black Forest’. Watch out RHS Hampton Court. Fruit and veg is fashionable and Chelsea is coming to get you!
My guess is that there will be edible plants tucked into all sorts of stylish places – especially with the new emphasis on sustainability in the Artisan gardens. And I, for one, am looking forward to checking it all out.
Finally, a mention for the Tamata New Zealand garden by Xanthe White. After the show they will be auctioning off their plants, including 1000 New Zealand native species, to raise funds to help the Red Cross in Japan and Christchurch.
The picture is James Wong’s garden from Chelsea 2010. Not much to eat but it sure looks pretty.