Last week I attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Labelled the best flower show in the world, it would seem a shame to miss it being in the horticultural sector. I was fortunate enough to go twice; both on the press day on Monday and on Saturday (a public day).
The contrast between the two days was very different, however. On press day it was time to dress smart (this is unusual for someone who spends 8 months of the year in shorts!) and wake up before light (you know it’s wrong to get up when your alarm sounds at 4:45) to get there early. I was involved with escorting and directing judging panels around to the exhibits in ‘The Great Pavilion’.
The exhibits were given provisional scores (before being clarified in a meeting later on) and an official award given on Tuesday morning. It was a useful experience as I gained first-hand knowledge of what the judges were looking for and how they went about marking the displays.
The marking scheme is very objective and not about whether you personally like the exhibit or not. This can be a challenging task when encountering exhibits you really like, or perhaps with some you are not so keen on!
That in itself is one of the beauties of these shows; you don’t have to like everything that is presented to you, but hopefully you come away with a better understanding of the designers’ thoughts and concepts.
The Saturday was extra busy with people and had a totally different feel to the atmosphere. I took the family along to experience the occasion, as they had never been before. It was nice to re-visit some of the gardens as well as see some of the exhibits I missed out on the first time! It was also great to see some familiar faces and catch up with people I knew, as well as being introduced to new acquaintances.
The show delivered a great array of appeal; with a diverse palette of plants on show, variation in interpretations of themes, as well as the use and contrast of hard materials alongside plants. With a mix of small scale artisan gardens, larger show gardens, floral displays and contemporary design, Chelsea 2014 more than accommodated for most with an interest in horticulture and gardening.