Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show

May 26, 2012

            While we are living in England, we want to be sure and do all the quintessential English things.  Things that the English people do and not necessarily the tourists do.  Things that you read about the Brits being all over an event and a big deal and such.  Things like the Chelsea Flower Show which we have heard about for years and years as being such a big deal.  So naturally I got tickets to attend and according to some of my ex-pat friends, I was lucky to get them.  I did join every organization possible like the Royal Horticultural Society so I got my tickets through them.

Haven’t quite figured out the timing yet of special events as to when the Royals go and the Beautiful People and the Rich and Famous.  So far, we have managed to miss them by a day at most of the events.  We attended the flower show on the last day.  Missed the Royals by a mile this time as they went on the first day.  OK.  I’m making notes for next year on the timing.  So far we have only managed to see The Earl of Wessex otherwise known as Prince Edward and we might possibly have seen the Duke of York, otherwise known as Prince Andrew but we needed binoculars to see if it was him for sure so not sure he counts.

Back to the Chelsea Flower Show.  We had to schedule an event on top of it, naming taking our driving theory and hazard perception tests that morning.  Very happy to say we passed.  Could have been a really dreary day at the flower show had we not passed.  So we did not get there at the opening but wandered into the show sometime around 11 a.m. or so.  We have discovered that events, like many in most countries, are a good opportunity for vendors to sell stuff.  Usually it is related to the theme of the event, such as selling boots and saddles at the Windsor Horse Show and selling tractors and garden tools at the Chelsea Garden Show but it is a place to buy and sell and sell and buy and buy and buy.  Being the good ex-pats living in country that we are, we support the local economy – a LOT.  At the Windsor Horse Show, I bought a pair of boots.  At the Chelsea Flower Show, I bought a hat.  See how good we are!

After we waded through the first rows of vendors, we finally got to some exhibits of flowers and carefully prepared designs of gardens.  It was quite difficult to get close enough to see it very well and so it continued on down the row.  My husband and I are having an ongoing debate now on what exactly is an English garden.  Is it well-manicured and flower beds just so and everything maintained and clipped and trimmed and in its place?  Our next door neighbor has a yard like that.  Or is it a higgledy piggledy hodgepodge of plants that seem to have no pattern but just grow and grow and there might be paths through the hedges and flowers and there might not be but just a riot of plants haphazardly growing happily in the brief spurt of sunshine.  Our garden is kind of like that but we don’t know if it is because it was supposed to be like that or because there were renters in the house before us that didn’t care about the garden.   The designs we saw at the flower show could have gone either way!  So the debate continues.

We finally got to the big building of plants and went in to see what they had.  Wow, first we came upon the carnivorous plants.  Ohhhh, I want some.  I could really use some in my house for the flies that get in whenever the windows are open.   They were wonderful.  And then we wandered around the building seeing a lot of familiar plants but in more glorious colors and blooms than usual plus a great many plants we didn’t know.  That part of the show was wonderful.

Finally we needed to get something to drink and decided we had to have a Pimm’s as it is also the English thing to do.  Got our Pimm’s and then there is nowhere to sit.  People are hanging onto chairs and tables as if their lives depend on it and others are seated on the ground which there is no way my arthritis will allow that and be able to stand again.  My husband is sure he read there is pizza somewhere so now becomes the Chelsea Flower show Pizza Hunt Marathon.  We finally track it down long after our Pimm’s is gone and by then we have traipsed from one end of the show to the other.  Luckily there was a place to sit and eat the pizza and then we had the opportunity to see the other end of the show as we came out of the food court.

We were only there a few houses and decided we had really seen most of the exhibits and most of the flowers.  We had oohed and ahhed at the exhibits, exclaimed over the sculptures, slavered over the wind chimes and bobbin’ robin’s and drooled over the insect eating plants so time to leave.

It was a good experience and a good show but I have to say that it wasn’t as spectacular as I had expected from all the hype.  A good day at any flower show would rival it.  Now I’ll probably lose my membership in RHS for smashing it but I am glad we went and we’ll go again next year if just to drool over the carnivorous plants again.


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