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I’m an optimist, My theory is that it is better to say ‘yes’ then work out if things are possible afterwards. I feel that if you take this approach then you are more likely to come across interesting opportunities. You never know where it ultimately might lead you. Yesterday one led me to inside the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s the first time I’ve been there; so armed with the new camera, a few lenses, suncream, hat and shades I hit the most prodigious flower show in the world.

We didn’t get there as early as we would have liked. Where we live the nearest we get to a traffic jam is when the road is too narrow for two tractors to pass, so we underestimated the time it would take to travel a mile in monday morning London traffic. But the showground was still very quiet when we got there at 08:50. Monday at Chelsea is reserved for press and ‘invited’ guests (which usually means celebrities). The celebs don’t start turning up until mid-late morning so it was nice to be able to get loads of different angles to the show gardens, without too many people about.

We started down main avenue where the real money is spent on creating kind of gardens that no doubt grace the homes of many a rich city type. Cleve West’s Paradise Garden was the first. I really like Cleve, and I nearly always love his gardens; I loved two thirds of his garden this year. He had an attractive sunken area in the centre, surrounded by some lovely cottage garden favourites.


The sunken part of Cleve West's Paradise Garden

The sunken part of Cleve West’s Paradise Garden

The only bit that I wasn’t so keen on was the dry bit at one end, which was used to link the garden into Persia, I’m not so much a fan of this style of garden so I could have been spared this bit and had more of the rest of the garden. I see it got a Gold medal, which goes to show that I don’t know what I am taking about, and looking back at the below photo It does kind-of work.


Cleve West's dry section

Cleve West’s dry section

Reading the pre-show press I didn’t think I’d like the Telegraph garden with its lawn mown to within an cm of its life, box balls and huge trained lime trees, but it actually had plenty of planting to soften it. You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for these kind of gardens, they look their best when pristine, but the team spent all day picking up stray leaves and squeegeeing the stone slabs.


The Telegraph Garden

The Telegraph Garden

There were some lovely plants on the Cloudy Bay garden, but the light was too harsh for any of my close-ups to be much use. At one point we caught the judges coming off this garden, but as can be seen by Juliet Roberts (The editor of Gardens Illustrated) they are a shy bunch who don’t like their photos being taken.


Don't think you can pap me......

Don’t think you can pap me……

Somebody last autumn must have sold a job-lot of double aquilegia seeds and some thistle type plant, which I am reliably informed is called Cirsium rivulare, because a lot of gardens shared the same plants. I did manage to get a shot of a heavily laden bee feeding off one. This photo could have been taken on any one of a dozen gardens, but was actually from the Positively Stoke-on-Trent garden.


Pollen sack laden bumblebee on Cirsium rivulare

Pollen sack laden bumblebee on Cirsium rivulare

My favourite three of the big show gardens were The Garden for First Touch, which made nice use of rusted metal; the Hope on the Horizon garden, which had some; and The Night Sky Garden, which was created by two brothers who live quite close to us. I’ll post some photos of these soon.

There was a lovely bit off to the east of the main show gardens which is surrounded by trees and is where they put the Artisan gardens, three stood out which were: Togenkyo – A Paradise on Earth


Togenkyo garden

Togenkyo garden

The DialAFlight Potter’s Garden


The Potters Garden

The Potters Garden

and The Topiarist’s Garden. Having looked today at the awards, it seems the judges agreed with us with the first two getting gold and the latter a silver-gilt.


The Topiarist's Garden

The Topiarist’s Garden

Once we had seen all the show gardens and grabbed some food we wandered round again looking at the floral Marquee and some of the exhibits. I liked the rose covered piano created by PollyFields, and the lavender covered elephant smelled lovely, although it must have taken months to make.

Rosebud Piano from Pollyfields

Rosebud piano from Pollyfields

By this time many of the celebs were wandering about, more of which to come……