March 21, 2017

A Must-See - The Chelsea Flower Show!!

As I look out my window on a blustery cold mid-March day, this is what I see.
It's pretty, but my mind wanders to a more serene setting where I was with my BFF's last May. So, before I can look at creating gardens here and even before the Boston Flower Show this weekend, I want to relive the true awesomeness of the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show. I took this FABULOUS trip right after my sweet Mum passed, with three of my besties, Libby, Traci and Eliza, to jolly old England to see the show and to see the sights. It was actually one of my Mum's last comments to me..."you girls will have SO much fun!" So even though my head wasn't quite right, I hopped on the plane for some much needed beauty! 

My friend, Libby, had been (pronounce like bean if you wan to feel British whilst reading this) to the Chelsea Flower Show with her family once before. And thanks to her staying up one night well-past midnight to score the tickets, we were off! Staying in Chelsea at the The Sloane Club (more about this neat spot in a later post) had us literally one block away from the flower version of Willy Wonka's candyland! And by staying in the neighborhood, we also got to revel in the local (and very chic!) stores with their incredible floral displays. I can tell already that I will soon exhaust my supply of adjectives, but alas, you'll have to deal.

We had a day to get our local bearings before we descended with the thousands of others on the show, so we just had to see the shops and their magical displays! The theme of the show was Carnival Fever focusing on Brazilian spirit and exotic flowers. I think you'll get the gist soon...

How cool are these Union Jack's in their crazy colors?
Refined and pretty, as only Cartier would be...sigh

 As the purveyor of this store is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth, I would expect nothing less than a completely jaw-dropping display by furniture designer, David Snowden (formerly Linley) at his store, Linley. The grapevines literally wrapped around the store!

Nice to meet you, ol' chap!

I spy, with my little eye, some strawberries! How sweet!
And this quintessentially London WACKY sight - a double decker bus and a man on his festooned bicycle

The next day, the London Gate, decorated in honor of the Queen's 90th birthday, opened on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (a British Army Veteran's Hospital that is 325 years old!). The Pensioners (vets in snazzy red uniforms) took our tickets and we were off! With about 8,000 of our closest friends! :)
Shops abounded on the main entrance to the displays. A captive (and willing) audience we were!
This was an interesting display mixing sod, steel and gardens. It also go a lot of attention because it was next to the show's winningest entry, a granite cube.
And here it is...entitled, The Antithesis of Sarcophagi. This 44 TON(!) granite cube had mysterious inscriptions on one-side and on the interior, a spectacular British woodland garden. This exhibit won best of everything! You had to wait quite a while to have the chance to peek through small drilled holes but the view was well worth it, but sadly hard to photograph.
 Here are the designers who were very funny and nice to answer ALL my questions!
Here we are and you can see how hard I tried to capture the beautiful garden inside, with Libby and Traci trying the same :)
And this is from the exhibit's brochure giving you an idea of what it looked like inside, and it really did! It was so incredible and they wouldn't explain how they made it. They wanted you to imagine rather than know. LOVED that!
Here's Eliza looking lovely while assessing the unusual sculptures 
Cool display of how they used this VERY real-looking astro turf for topiaries
There were SO many gorgeous outdoor gardens and exhibits, I could go on forever but it might bore you completely. Leave it to say that the gardens ranged from typical English country, to arid desert, to funky and even Harrods spectacular display entitled, "British Eccentrics Garden" with twirling trees and and a tower whose top lifted off. It was too hard to photograph the movements and the crowds were mobbed, but amazing nonetheless.

Sometimes the simplest displays were the prettiest too...

...because there is a chance I could recreate some of these at home!
And all stopped to view The 5000 Poppies Project. Here 26,000 hand-crocheted poppies, taking three-years to complete including 1200 from a local knitting club, Knitting for Victory, represented the service and sacrifice of the British servicemen and women in stunning fashion. At the show, poppies were everywhere. I even bought some seeds to grow the Victoria Cross poppy named by Queen Victoria in 1890 as a reminder of outstanding courage. I'll keep you posted on how they do!
Then we entered the Great Pavilion. OMG! Displays were centered around specific flower types or themes. The orchid display has no words to describe it, replete with the funny guy in a pith helmet!
He blinked...
You literally walked through a tunnel covered with the most beautiful orchids!
Then we moved to other flower types and exhibits - all in Carnival regality!

LOVED Carmen Miranda and her patchwork skirt!

Hello Gorgeous!
Thankfully for the true Anglophiles, they also had some pretty English-themed displays, like these small rock gardens...

...Victorian-I-Don't-Know-What-This-Was, but the costumes were fun...

...a jaw-dropping tribute to the Queen - also difficult to get close to. 
Here is the front...
...and the backside of this amazing display. You can see the colors of her profile.

Pictures of the Queen and the Queen Mum at prior Chelsea Flower Shows. 
SO fun!!
More singular flower and garden exhibits, all filled with people there to tell you how to grow this or that!
This one even had a river running through it!

And even the sporting side of gardens came into play with these fun topiaries!
Then it was back outside to grab a meal and S-H-O-P!!
And IF I were in the market for a jungle-themed-cottage (and I mean, who isn't?) this one had my number all over!
Oh Cabana Boy!
Shops and more shops!

LOVE this lady's stern look like she was hunting...needlepoint pillows!
Ahhh, and when I lose a little weight (story of my life) I will buy one of these snazzy jackets. Their shoulders and chests were a tad small unless I never wanted to button it. But the whole point of these cool jackets by Moloh is the military detailing and fun patterns. They were super cool!
And then I got to meet the FABULOUS writer, florist and photographer, Sally Page where she sold her adorable books on flower shops and secrets of floral design, along with her pens and other great accessories! She was so nice and will be at the show this year, so if you stop by her shop, tell her I say hi!!
A pretty wall garden at a restaurant
Play houses anyone?
Simple box containers underplanted with white hydrangeas topped with pretty ornamental trees
I was really looking for an armillary for my garden at home, but didn't find what I liked. This half-version looks pretty with the Solomon's Seal behind.
And last but not least, the reason why the funds are raised during this show, is for the Pensioners, the Veterans, who fight so that the British, our great allies, remain safe. Now on to a Pimm's Cup!

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