Well, the final sell-off of plants from the Chelsea exhibits is over and no sooner had the last visitor left the show than the exhibitors began the curious task of dismantling everything and heading for home. I only worked on one Show Garden at Chelsea, many many years ago: a naturalistic display of wild flowers staged by Kew – the first ever wild flower garden at Chelsea, I think. And tearing apart something so beautiful creates a very curious and depressing feeling – even when you know that it was never quite real.
But I leave with you with a couple of intriguing sights from the show. First of all, veteran gardening columnist and TV gardener Peter Seabrook, who recently celebrated thirty years writing for Britain’s top selling Sun newspaper (has anyone else worked for Rupert Murdoch for so long?) launched a new plant that he found in his own garden in Essex.
‘Seabrook’s Lavender’ is a seedling of the well known Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’, a really hardy and prolific ground covering variety. ‘Seabrook’s Lavender’ is a softer lavender shade but otherwise has the vigour, toughness and prolific flowering of its parent. It’s available in Britain now, and in North America, Peter hopes, next year.
And finally: Marijuana, Cannabis sativa, has been on display at Chelsea for the first time ever. A number if these elegant plants were ranged across the back of an exhibit by the South East England Development Agency which highlighted the value of plants for uses other than food and garden display. In fact, cannabis was widely grown in the 19th century as an ornamental foliage plant, and I remember the first time I visited Christopher Lloyd’s garden at Great Dixter: amongst a collection of summer annuals growing in pots outside the front door was a magnificent cannabis plant. However, when the local police heard about it they paid him a friendly visit and visitors could enjoy (the sight of) it no more.
Cannabis is used to make rope and fabric – and when I was a kid I remember using the boiled seeds as fishing bait. The plants were not sold off to the public on Saturday – although one or two disappointed exhibitors could perhaps have made use of them…
That's it for my Chelsea blog series for this year. I'll be adding one or two pictures over the next few days but otherwise, it's back to what you might call "normal".