One of the main reasons I joined the RHS (alongside cheap or free entry into gardens) was to get tickets to the Chelsea Flower show. Wayne had bought his mum tickets many years ago for a birthday gift but she hadn't
wanted to go or had been ill or something so he very generously gifted them to us, and we had a brilliant day out. Since then I had been hankering to go back. Finally this was the year.
Sadly for me I chose the year that many gardens had withdrawn through lack of sponsorship but at the time of booking the tickets I wasn't to know that. We had tried to book for the Thursday but all RHS tickets (not public) were sold out so we settled for the Friday - yes as it turned out the hottest day of the year so far, but again I wasn't to know that either.
We packed a huge picnic and set out full of enthusiasm expecting to have another brilliant time. I have to point out that I don't do heat very well and was already flagging by the time we got to Sloan square. We had to walk from there as the local bus service had been suspended for the day. I was surprised that although there was a noticeable increase of police presence as we walked along, once there security (in view of recent events) was not that fierce. Martin was jokingly asked if our picnic knives were for our picnic but that was it.
Unlike the first time we had visited, the trade stalls were all over the place where as before they had been more confined to one trading street. Alongside the fact of the reduced number of gardens and the increase in plot size for the traders, and the fact that many traders had decorated their trade stalls to look like gardens it became difficult to actually find the designed gardens.
We wanted to buy this but didnt have enough cash, they didnt do credit card and neither did they do shipping. Plus we didnt want to carry it around all day.
None of the eight show gardens inspired us in the least. There seemed to be a perchance for 'weeds' as they all tried to show us how to encourage green into grey Britain.
On our previous trip and to garden shows and visits to RHS gardens, the viewing gardeners had been very polite but all we seemed to meet were rude and ill mannered impatient members of the public who pushed and shoved to get where they wanted with no thought for any one else. Poor Martin never got to the front to see even one of the gardens. Maybe it was the hot weather but this was not something I had encountered before and I found it very off putting.
After only an hour we were ready for lunch but finding a shady spot was really hard. Every bit of dim lit space seemed to be taken. Finally we found a small spot behind one of the trading sheds, not a picturesque place but as least cool.
Back to the fray and I really wanted to see the much publicised Radio 2 gardens. These were at the other end of the show (well they would be wouldn't they?) and by the time we got to them we were very hot and sweaty. They were a total disappointment. They had seemed huge on the TV but were not much bigger than the Artisan gardens (which were tiny). Not only that the gap to look into them was no bigger than the average 5 bar gate with 40 or so people trying to squeeze into the space to view them. And to my mind they honestly were not worth viewing. I have seen better simply walking along our road - which is saying something as they are all old age pensioners who do not garden round near us!
Mary Berry's edible garden. I found it very messy and difficult to understand all the vegetables ripe at the same time. I grew up in a time when the whole of the back yard was usually given up to veggies and it always looked far neater and interesting than this.
The sound garden.An interesting concept, speakers under the water made different ripples in the tank depending on the frequency. Trouble was I had expected sound in the garden. It was silent. I also think 'garden' was pushing it.
This was the biggest disappointment.Sarah Raven's cut flower garden ... except where were the flowers? Sarah was actually working in the garden when I got to the front, but came out to go off someplace. She was waylaid by some woman and although she was not actually rude to the lady praising her books, it was obvious she didn't want to stop and talk to the public.
We took another drinks break. Opting for a half pint from the bar as all our picnic drinks had been warmed up in the 30 degree heat, we tried to find some shade and a seat at the band stand. On our previous visit we had been treated to a rag band and then a jazz band. This time it was an opera singer who was promising us 2 whole (boring) hours of opera and musical songs. She was very good but
rather a narrow genre for such a big crowd?
We had to sit in full sun too as there was no shady spots available. NB I did love her gown.
Our final stop was the Pavillion. I had been looking forward to this part best. Sadly it was so humid inside the tent that after only half an hour we had to make our way outside again. It would also seem that all the wonderful displays made from flowers were a thing of the past and it was straightforward tables of samples of flowers/plants lined up.
Fed up by only 2 oclock we made our way home. I doubt we will be going again.