The Chelsea Flower Show And Britain In Bloom – A Feast For Your Eyes

The world’s most famous flower show is back for another year, kicking off the UK’s summer social season with spectacular gardens and stunning floral displays. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show – which runs this year from May 22 to 26 – is a feast for your eyes.

Visitors can expect to see the finest examples of horticultural excellence and gardens to suit all tastes – from traditional artisan gardens using only naturally sourced materials, to the often surprising cutting edge designs of the more contemporary gardening participants. And at every turn there will be a sensory overload of breath taking decoration and colour.

In keeping with the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations and the Olympics, this year’s show will also include a modern twist on nostalgia. Under the banner “Flying the Flag for Britain”, one garden designer has chosen to include a caravan as the central theme of her garden. Designer Jo Thompson’s Caravan Club garden showcases that most British of pastimes – caravanning. In the midst of a palette of pink and cream irises, peonies and roses visitors will see Doris – a 1950s two person caravan.

Several other garden designers have looked to literature and poetry for their inspiration including William Wordsworth’s “The Fountain” and William Burroughs’ work, “The Soft Machine”. Others have found themselves influenced by the landscapes that had in turn influenced great literary figures – such as the Dorset countryside of Thomas Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” and the rugged moors that were the backdrop of the Bronte sisters’ books.

With such enormous diversity of style and taste, there is sure to be something to appeal to every gardener – even those with only a small terrace or city window box as a canvas – a vertical garden is also featured in the show for those who are space challenged.

Visitors to 138 Harley Street have the opportunity to enjoy the London Vision Clinic’s roof garden as they pass by on the stairs for their eye checks. “Contemporary” and “relaxing” were key words in the mind of its designer, Joanna Archer, when she got to work on placing the stainless steel cascading water feature, all season container plants, Scottish pebbles and effective up lighting on the hardwood decking. Joanna, who is married to the London Vision Clinic Research Manager Tim Archer, is a graduate member of the Society of Garden Designers and is a RHS qualified horticulturalist. Her studies included courses at Inchbald School of Design who – to mark their 50th anniversary – have taken the inside back page of the guide books for visitors to both the Chelsea Flower Show and the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (July 3 to 8). The photo below shows Joanna at work.

Prior to the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show, this year the Royal Horticultural Society held the first “National Gardening Week” in April. Local communities, clubs and societies joined its “Britain in Bloom” campaign and transformed streets, roundabouts and any empty corner by planting masses of colourful flowers and shrubs.

The success of the campaign showed the continuous and increased popularity of gardening. Analysts have in turn attributed this to economic uncertainty, rising food prices (many more people are now growing their own vegetables) and concerns about the environment. Arguably it is good for your health and – without doubt – it is also a great stress buster. In its purest form gardening is about connecting with the earth and the natural rhythms of nature.

As with any hobby, you need the correct tools and the latest inventions will also be available at the Chelsea Flower Show. From a practical perspective, it is also considerably easier and more enjoyable to garden without the inconvenience of glasses slipping down your nose and becoming water splattered in an April shower. Another reason to bin the specs and visit the London Vision Clinic is that – unless you are the Queen – they are a tricky look to wear with a hat at a flower show.

Happy gardening!