GARDENING: Hayfever at the Chelsea Flower Show

Hydrangea macrophylla MISS SAORI ('H20-2')
Hydrangea macrophylla MISS SAORI ('H20-2')
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CHELSEA press day this year, with searing heat, and masses of pollen from the plane trees, proved to be an uncomfortable one.

I’ve never heard so many coughs and sneezes!

It’s still a fabulous show to go to – even if you can’t afford, or even emulate, some of the products and gardens.

My biggest about-turn this year was Alan Titchmarsh’s garden, From The Moors to the Sea. From the preview drawings, I was convinced I wouldn’t like it, but I was wrong...

Who wouldn’t like a garden with its own miniature beach? The planting included my favourite Echiums and foxgloves.

Actually, foxgloves (and foxtail lilies - Eremus) were everywhere. As it’s late May, you do tend to get similar plants popping up every year – cow parsley, lupins, irises - but this time, there was a massive push towards natural planting, with grasses intermingling with more formal plants.

“Weedy-looking,” I overheard one well-spoken lady say.

It was the planting in the gardens that I was most disappointed with - too many cool palettes, not enough innovation.

However, Cleve West’s M&G Garden, based on the Persian Paradise garden, came up trumps with his blend of perennials, grasses and bulbs – unlucky not to win Best In Show.

Best artisan garden winner, Togenkyo – A Paradise on Earth, was also beautifully planted - utterly Japanese, it was the moss-covered rocks that really stood out – perfection.

I also really liked The Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden, by young brothers Harry and David Rich - unlucky to get a silver-gilt medal. However, there was so much in this garden to draw inspiration from.

One criticism I heard was that they’d tried to cram too much in – but isn’t that what all keen gardeners do?

As ever, the trade stalls went from those which should have been tagged “super-rich only” to really good, innovative, reasonable-priced products, reflected in the joint winners of the Product of the Year competition.

Bosch Lawn and Garden was recognised for the Isio Shape and Edge Shear, while Harrod Horticultural was awarded for its Slot & Lock Storm Proof Vegetable Cages.

Plant of the Year:

HYDRANGEA macrophylla Miss Saori, exhibited by Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres, has been crowned Plant of the Year.

Its deep rose margins soften into white centres and unusual double-petalled flowers giving the bloom a lacy appearance, with burgundy foliage.

Taking second place was Iris Domino Noir from Cayeux Iris, with Gerbera Garvinea Sweet Glow (Garvinea Sweet Series) from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, in third.

Best Gardens:

•BEST Show Garden: The Laurent-Perrier Garden, by Luciano Giubbilei.

This garden is formed from a series of defined layers, in a simple geometric layout. The planting features delicate forms alongside stronger, bolder leaves. Nice, but not my cup of tea...

•Best Fresh Garden: The Mind’s Eye, by LDC Design. Created for the RNIB in partnership with Countryside, it is a sensory garden. There are four zones: open woodland, damp and shady woodland, prairie border and arid border.

Other gold medallists:

•Show gardens: The Homebase Garden – Time to Reflect, in association with Alzheimer’s Society; The M&G Garden; No Man’s Land: ABF The Soldiers’ Charity Garden to mark the centenary of World War One; RBC Waterscape Garden; The Telegraph Garden.

•Fresh gardens – London Square and Reachout.

•Artisan Gardens – The DialAflight Potter’s Garden.

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