Chelsea Flower Show 2009

Rain, wind and new plants

Rose 'Highgrove'. Image ©RHS Here at the Chelsea Flower Show it’s the day before Press Day, judging and the Royal Visit. The rain fell, the wind blew, and an announcement was made that all garden sunshades and patio umbrellas should be folded because of the risk of damage.

Inside the Great Pavilion there were none of the dramas of years ago, before it was a modern prefabricated building, and the three acre canvas marquee rattled and swayed and a huge timber beam fell from the roof.

Many nurseries in the Great Pavilion were flaunting their new plants, which I’ll be reviewing for the rest of the week over on my Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog, and this seems like to good time to mention just a few of the stand outs so far. When I’ve posted this I’ll be going to bed, sitting up compiling the full list.

A new rose named for the home of Prince Charles, ‘Highgrove’, featured on the stand from Peter Beales Roses and Prince Charles will be at the Show tomorrow to launch it. Two pink flowered hardy geraniumsGeranium phaeum 'Mottisfont Rose'. Image © also stand out. Geranium sylvaticum ’Hilary’ from Hardys Cottage Garden Plants and the pink and white bicoloured G. phaeum ‘Mottisfont Rose’ on the Hardy Plant Society  stand which also features the first silver-leaved form of the American native doll’s eyes, Actaea pachypoda – it’s called ‘Pewter and Pearls’.

Lilium 'Melissimo'. Image © I was very taken with a huge new picotee Oriental lily from Hart’s Nursery called ‘Melissimo’ in white with a bright picotee edge as well as new bicoloured form of Pacific Coast Iris called ‘Broadleigh Fenella’ from Broadleigh Gardens. There was also a superb Cornus, raised at Rutgers University in New Jersey – of which more another time.

Chelsea Flower Show – first day on the site

Orchids from Burnham Nurseries. Image © It’s Saturday and I’m finally down here at the Chelsea Flower Show, the most famous flower show in the world – the show opens Tuesday. Six hundred exhibitors, including 109 staging floral exhibits in the 12,000 square metre/three acre Great Pavilion, put it all together in just three weeks and it takes 800 people to make it happen. There are just thirteen outdoor show gardens, which can be up to 10mx22m/33x72ft in size. They’ve been known to cost more than £250,000 to create – for five days of public viewing – and the recession has reduced the number this year. But at first sight some look very impressive.

As I arrived at the show today to continue my coverage of Chelsea’s new plants that I began on 1 May on my Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog, some exhibits were complete while most were in various stages of completion; there was some frantic activity on one or two of the show gardens while a few exhibitors in the Floral Pavilion had not even started.

Burnham Nurseries exhibit (finished) and Devine Nurseries exhibit. Image ©GardenPhotos.comBurnham Nurseries orchid exhibit (Grand Pavilion, D24) had finished and the pristine stand stood out vividly from the chaos around about. Next door, Devine Nurseries (Grand Pavilion, D23) had not yet arrived with their alliums. There’s confidence for you.

Also complete was a stand from Roger Platts Garden Design and Nurseries (Grand Pavilion, D20). Having built many show gardens outside, he knows the value of getting finished in good time. One feature I especially admired on his display entitled A Plantsman's Palette was a Banksian rose, Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ climbing through a Japanese maple. You’d need a more substantial maple in a real garden, but it looked wonderful.Rosa banksiae 'Lutea'. Image ©

I only flew in yesterday from Pennsylvania so I’m feeling a bit knackered, as they say over here. Time for a supper of good old British fish and chips -  and more tomorrow (reports, that is – not fish and chips).

You can check my new plants coverage over on my RHS New Plants blog.

New plants at the Chelsea Flower Show

Clematis Diana's Delight ('Evipo026'). Image ©Raymond Evison Clematis The world famous Chelsea Flower Show opens in London on Tuesday and already for the last two weeks I’ve been posting about this year's new plant introductions at Chelsea on my Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog. I’ll be at the show from tomorrow, checking out all the other new plants (like this clematis Diana's Delight from Raymond Evison) and bringing you the news over on my RHS New Plants blog. And posting here regularly too.