I feel RHS Chelsea Flower Show is getting a lot of stick this year, and whilst I don’t disagree with many of the comments, I think we do have to remember that behind each trade stand, show garden or plant stall is a person. A person full of heart for gardening and with a vision or a crazy wild dream – just like me.
2018 was my first ever Chelsea experience and I attended on Press Day, so I missed the £100 ticket price tag (seriously!) and was super privileged to have a look around the show before the masses arrived. There was me in jeans and t-shirt, keeping it cool or totally missing the memo – you decide! Alongside every A-Z list dressed up celeb and Gardeners’ World presenter, but most importantly friends. Fellow gardening addicts who I have met within the online world of social media and have now become what I would like to believe – friends.
I will elaborate of course, otherwise this would be a very short blog but I think my next three points will sum my thoughts up.
- How much is your average fish and chips at home? £4-5? RHS Chelsea = £10
Maybe this is because it’s London, or maybe it’s show novelty, or does it come down to show demographic targeting? In all honesty, it’s probably a complete mixture of all of those reasons but it was super tasty so nearly justified.
- Garden designers…I have a question…when you design the garden, who do you design it for? The people, the sponsor or the GOLD Award?
Please actually add a comment or send me a DM – cause I don’t know the answer, would love to know and I think the answer would speak volumes.
- Most importantly…what did I love?
If you know me, you know that I’m about two things – People and Veg (and mint!) – so make a show garden full of different vibrant, crisp and bold salad leaves and other veggie delights and I would stand in awe like you see those doing at Chelsea if you manage to elbow your way to the front. (Now that’s given me an idea for Chelsea 2019!)
Generally though as harsh as it may sound, but as many of you will know about me – I’m not about garden design and everything in its prim and proper place. I’m about realness, inspiring the average person and YOU!
Which is why I didn’t look at any of the show gardens in real detail – to create these you would need hundreds or thousands of pounds as the talented Jane Perrone pointed out in her fantastic blog on the show! (I very rarely share other people’s blogs – not because I’m mean – but either I’m too busy to sit down and read or they really have to connect with me – and Jane’s did – so please do take a read here)
I spoke to the people behind the gardens, as well as those on the trade stands. Because to me…they are what matters!
It’s the people who have a story to tell, a journey and a dream. For some like Garden Ninja aka Lee; who was a fellow finalist in the same category as me at the industry awards last year and it was his first ever time having a design at Chelsea. Lee only started garden design 3 years ago and always had this show as a bucket list dream. Now – he as has just won 5 gold stars and the Director General Trade Stand Award for his work with Hartley Botanic. It’s incredible!
Pure Greenhouse – you may know of their stunning frameless greenhouse designs – a true investment piece. Some may say crazy money but simple, sleek and beautiful all the same. Joe, who started the business alongside Matt though is a novice gardener like you and I – who prior to setting up the business was in the household cavalry for four and a half years with one of my work friends. It’s a small world really! Super friendly and down to earth guy who shares the same passion as we do.
If I could share all their inspiring stories here I would, but the piece would go on forever then and I know we both don’t want that.
So in a nutshell, is it worth the crazy price tag for a ticket if you just think about the gardens, food, shopping – maybe not! In all honesty, the show didn’t have the extra sprecial wow factor I had hoped for compared to other shows.
But what it does have is so many incredible, talented and inspiring people in one space for four days – who you can learn from and be inspired by – for me that’s priceless – just go on a quieter week day so you can actually talk to them.