This time last year I could hardly sit still with the apprehension and excitement of doing a garden at Chelsea. There was no room in my world for anything else – a one-track mind full of Fenland Alchemists (and a quiet panic over designing such a complex planting scheme!).
And now - a year on – little wistful sighs as I think of all the designers and contractors beginning their Chelsea journey this year.
So I thought I would get my Chelsea fix and have a sneaky peek at the RHS website and see what gorgeous garden treats we have in store for us this year. A lot of the gardens don’t have plans up yet – and also a lot can happen between drawing them up and the finished garden, so my favourites no doubt will change. But I thought I would mention a few of my early choices…
* Kate Gould’s urban garden for Hartman UK looks like being a good one – very understated, green in both the colour and philosophy, and also very practical. This is a garden that is “do-able” and I think it will be well liked for that reason.
* The Daily Telegraph garden designed by Andy Sturgeon (a welcome return after a year off from Chelsea) is a fresh take on a gravel garden. This could be striking and looks as if it’s going to be all about the plants. I’m looking forward to seeing some interesting planting combinations in this one.
* I’m really looking forward to seeing the Easigrass garden designed by Tony Smith too. It looks on plan more like a Hampton Court conceptual design – but why not bring that kind of garden to Chelsea! It’s going to be a Marmite moment, I think!
* The Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith takes the woodland theme and injects a bit of contemporary style into it – could look very beautiful – and could give people with shady gardens a real piece of inspiration!
* The L’Occitane garden by James Towillis is another one that looks great on plan. A real slice of the Mediterranean and should be a crowd-pleaser!
* Flying the flag for the traditionalists is Roger Platts’ M&G Investments Garden. There is no doubt that it will be beautiful but I have a feeling that the old ‘traditional gardens at Chelsea’ debate will rear its head again!
* I was a real fan of the Tourism Malaysia Garden last year. This year’s (although it looks dubiously similar to last year’s on plan) could also be very beautiful in the flesh. It’s designed by David Cubero and James Wong, and it looks - quite simply – magical!
* The Aussies are back! They were really missed last year after the bush fires ruined their nursery but you can’t keep a good Aussie down and it looks like this one is going to be a corker!
* The South Lakes Hotels garden designed by Jonathan Denby and Philippa Pearson is another one that looks lovely on plan although I am concerned that the flower beds won’t feel generous enough in reality (hope it proves me wrong, though!)
* And last but not least – my little secret favourite at the moment… The Welcome to Yorkshire’s Rhubarb & Custard Garden. I love the wittiness of it – from the custard carpet of yellow sedum to the wooden spoon seat! Enchanting!
I wonder how my opinions will change when the gardens are all built and planted, and paraded like shiny-faced children being shown off by their proud parents. It certainly looks as though the days of minimalist, sterile gardens are over (or at least taking a sabbatical) while colourful exuberant planting looks set to take the stage for a while. Go plants, go!!!