When I started visiting Chelsea Flower Show, back in the happy days when entry was free for RHS members, cottage gardening ruled. You couldn't move for columbines (always annoyingly called 'Granny's Bonnets') foxgloves and wild gardens by John Chambers, while in the Marquee Beth Chatto reigned supreme with her 'unusual perennials'. Then came the New European Perennial gardens and Piet Oudolf and, horrors, grasses. This year, Chelsea was not only sickeningly Green but generally green, with designers opting for very few flowers and those usually white. I do think that the gardens of Tom Stuart-Smith and Arabella Lennox-Boyd were absolutely beautiful but lovely to look at and visit rather than live with. After all, white peonies will not always be in flower.
Not surprising then that the People's Choice came down to four gardens with plenty of colour in them. I was expecting the winner to be From Life to Life, the garden commemorating George Harrison and his gardening passion, thinking that people would vote sentimentally. After all, what person of my age could hear Here Comes the Sun played all week without a tear in the eye? Instead the vote went to Cleve West's BUPA garden and rightly, because it really worked better. You can still see the video of the Life to Life garden here.
I see I wrote about Chelsea two years ago and I think the television coverage is still improving. Local nurseryman Neil Lucas, mentioned in that post, picked up his seventh Chelsea gold medal this year. Wow! Not that I will be using any of his lovely grasses in my own garden as I have no desire to turn it into a hay meadow.