GARDENING: Inspired by the mad and magnificent at Chelsea

The Basotho Diaspora Choir perform on Sentebale - Hope in Vulnerability garden at Chelsea Flower Show.
The Basotho Diaspora Choir perform on Sentebale - Hope in Vulnerability garden at Chelsea Flower Show.
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I’d like to say the poor weather at the Chelsea Flower Show’s press day didn’t spoil it, but that would be lying.

Torrential showers in the morning, followed by strong winds in the afternoon, made it an exhibitor’s nightmare.

Visitors admire the Inter-flora display in the Great Pavilion at Chelsea Flower Show.

Visitors admire the Inter-flora display in the Great Pavilion at Chelsea Flower Show.

Trade stands’ products were soaked and some of the poor show gardens were battered.

The weather seemed to be the reason for a poor turnout of celebrities, but Bill Bailey, Esther Rantzen, Angela Rippon, Christopher Biggins and Brenda Blethyn were there, as well as the usual gardening TV favourites.

Nurse Sean Murray, from Ashington, Northumberland, who won the BBC’s Great Chelsea Garden Challenge, designed a front garden for Main Avenue, incorporating plants and a parking space, to highlight the RHS’s campaign, Greening Grey Britain.

Prince Harry visited in the morning to see his Sentebale Garden, inspired by his charity in Lesotho, which in reality was even better than its design brief, with superb massed planting.

Pollyfields' 10ft-tall Medusa fountain was a snip at �42,500.

Pollyfields' 10ft-tall Medusa fountain was a snip at �42,500.

Along with the Royal Canadian Bank Garden, these two were my favourites of the show gardens, although both missed out on gold medals, gaining silver gilts.

Winner of Best in Show, Dan Pearson’s garden based on the Chatsworth Estate, imported 300 tonnes of rock from its Derbyshire grounds, for suitably rugged, naturalistic planting.

As ever, Chelsea is a place for inspiration – and for those with money to burn.

Winner of my Crazy Garden Ornament of the Year prize goes to Pollyfields’ enormous 10ft tall Medusa fountain, a snip at £42,500!

The coveted President's Choice Award honour went to County Durham's Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries.

The coveted President's Choice Award honour went to County Durham's Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries.

As ever, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth before the judges made their rounds – and an anxious 24-hour wait to see if Great Pavilion exhibitors and designers have won a coveted gold.

County Durham’s Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries, gold medal winners for the past three years, spent an amazing 55 hours putting its exhibit of rare perennials and alpines together.

The nursery was awarded silver gilt, but then was given the President’s Award, a highly prestigious honour, chosen by Royal Horticultural Society President Sir Nicholas Bacon as his favourite exhibit in the show.

In the Great Pavilion, the weather couldn’t spoil the show, and the standard was as good, if not better than ever.

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