The hype at Chelsea tends to focus on the show gardens, like this one from last year – the Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden. But we also love the pavilions with their incredible displays of plants and flowers. Pressed to nominate just three in the must-see category, Graham finally decides on:
1. David Austin roses
No surprises here. We love David Austin roses. “It’s great to see what’s coming and to reacquaint yourself with the big roses that Austins have released over the past 20 years. It’s like seeing old friends! For the last couple of years I’ve been especially admiring ‘William Shakespeare 2000’ from the English Roses collection. Every time I see it I think I must grow it as it’s really good rose.”
It’s not surprising that this rose demands attention. The blooms are a rich velvety crimson, fading to purple and are beautifully perfumed. In fact the rose won ‘Most Fragrant Rose’ in the Hamilton trails in New Zealand in 2011. The Austins have planted a large bed of them at Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.
incidenatlly, there is no instant gratifaction when it comes to new rose releases. It takes three years for a David Austin rose that debuts at Chelsea, to make it through Australia’s quarantine processes and into Australian nurseries. Coming up this year, ‘Lady of Shalott’, which premiered at Chelsea in 2009:
2. Hillier Nursery
The biggest display in the Grand Pavilion is the one right in the middle by Hillier Nursery. This nursery has won a gold medal at every single Chelsea show it has exhibited, and we think this shot shows why.
The display is set up as a landscape so you can get an idea of the way the trees and shrubs grow and of how they look with other plants. The best of these new release trees and shrubs soon find their way into our gardens. “Each year I have a chat with Wes Fleming about the best of the exhibit and about what should end up in the Flemings catalogue,” says Graham. “It’s really exciting to see these new plants so beautifully grown and displayed.”
3. The best at Chelsea
This is a relatively new display and it edits down the best of the best so that only the very finest dozen flowers in the whole show are displayed. This kind of judging means that we all get to argue about which of our favourites is missing from the final line-up! One of Graham’s favourites from last year’s show is this stunning deep purple hyacinth. You can almost smell them from here!
Oh, and a caption for that opening pic: Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden. Designed by Joe Swift. Sponsored by Homebase. RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2012.
Were you there last year? Tell us what you hope local distributors will be bringing home from the Grand Pavilion for Australian gardeners to play with in a few years.