The 2019 Chelsea Flower Show by Charlie Albone

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show was once again a beautiful display of everything horticultural, at the highest standard. I took a very last minute trip to the other side of the globe to soak up the show gardens, ogle at the new plant varieties and to submerse myself in an amazing inspiring show.

The show gardens were of a very high standard this year with a wide array of styles and designs.The Best in Show award went to 2-time previous best in show winner Andy Sturgeon’s woodland garden inspired by rock formations he first saw on a beach in Australia. I loved this garden as it had an amazing atmosphere and was so excellently executed with over 9000 individual plants with an overriding green theme using texture over flower colour for interest – great inspiration for a shady corner here in Australia.

Kate Gould: The Greenfingers Charity garden

Kate Gould designed a very ambitious garden over two levels for the green fingers charity. This is a charity for children with life limiting illness who are often wheel chair bound and the garden was a place to escape and enjoy the outdoors, which included features such as a fully functioning lift, hanging egg chair and cargo net to chill out in. This highly ambitious build “really stretched” (in her own words) designer Kate and along with the incredible amount of work was a beautiful planting palette of lush greens, whites and yellows. This garden was awarded the second highest medal a Silver Gilt.

Mark Gregory not only created a spectacular garden, he brought a whole slice of Yorkshire to London with his recreation of a Yorkshire lock complete with gates bursting with water and a lock keeper’s cottage. This garden looked great from the outside where patrons look from but even better when you walk through it (which only a lucky few get to do). Quite unbelievable to think 21 days before show opening the area was a flat piece of grass. A well deserved gold medal for Mark and his Landform team.

Another favourite was designed by Jo Thompson, a garden inspired by the town built by the owner of Wedgewood ceramics for his staff. This garden had architectural arches forming the structure of the garden with a beautiful paved area and low flat copper water feature. The planting was a mix of pink, yellow and orange – which doesn’t sound like it goes but it certainly did!  Working with this planting was a beautiful bronze sculpture by Ben Barrell. The garden was also awarded a Silver Gilt medal.

Plant of the Year

To be awarded the ‘Plant of the year’ at this show is an amazing honour and ensures great sales of the plant that wins. This year the winning plant was Sedum takesimense ‘Nonsitnal’, Second place was awarded to Digitalis x valinii ‘firebrid’ and third place went to Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ – Luckily for us over here in Australia all of these plants are very easy to grow.

Due to the popularity of these plant and the quarantine laws we probably won’t see the actual variety of plant for 7-10 years. However, there are lots of varieties that are available that will give you a very similar look.

Sedum selskianum ‘Variegated’ is very similar to the show winner with tight lightly serrated variegated foliage that is very low maintenance and drought tolerant.  It differs slightly as the yellow flowers are less abundant than the winner but a great option for those who have brown thumbs!  Sedum like dry soil but will leaving them with constant dry soil will be detrimental so water occasionally but with Richgro Ezi-wet soil wetter to ensure the water doesn’t just run off.

One of my favourite plants is Digitalis or the foxglove and the ‘x valnii’ options are commonly known here as Dixiplexis  – perfect for a semi shade position or full sun up to 1pm these plants have very interesting spires of flowers all through spring and summer.  The variety that was awarded second place is very similar to a variety we can get called ‘Ruby Glow’. I actually prefer the variety we can get as the tone is much darker so better suited to our high UV light conditions. Improve soil with Richgro compost before planting this plant to ensure moisture and nutrients are held around the root zone.

The final plant on the list Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ looks almost identical to the Agapanthus I love to use – ‘Cloudy days’. A white flowering agapanthus with purple throats to the individual flowers which creates a soft attractive appearance al through summer. To get a similar effect to ‘Fireworks’, plant these densely to create lots of flower spikes.

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