Chelsea Flower – Thing We Can Grow, And Can’t

Traveling to other gardens, botanical and private, is great fun in its comparisons and contrasts – what we can grow each other, what others consider special, and the plants we covet because we found them impossible to grow.

Such was my recent trip to England, France and Switzerland.

Here are some highlights regarding the Chelsea Flower Show. Definitely a “bucket list” item for gardeners!

Common Successes

Vegetable. Vegetables grown in greenhouses and containers looked lush and abundant. I enjoyed answering visitors’ questions as they whispered to each other as they marveled at new plants, especially “California-grown” boysen berries in bloom and fruit.

Grass. An intensively planted exhibition glorified grasses as ornamental plants, highlighting their variegated foliage, many shades of green and flowers. A strawberry in bright pink was a special delicacy, although it did not promise much in terms of edibility. And a lavender bed – literally!

Alliums and Amaryllis. Sculptural specimens!

Begonias and Fuchsias. Although most of us have a corner of filtered light where we can seed a begonia or two, these gargantuan specimens made me feel almost lilliputian.

Coloring plants. Wonderfully ornamental display of plants used for dyes.

Huechera. So many color variations!

School gardens. The display of the school garden filled with colors and lessons illustrated with satisfaction why teach children (and adults) where their food comes from, and students excited about their projects.

What We Could Use More: The Low Allergy Garden
This display and brochure provided a list of what to avoid planting if allergies are part of your life.
Of course, our ”bad” plants are largely different from those in England…..

What The English Consider Special: Garden Judged Dry-Arroyo, Container Cactus
Rain-soaked Englishmen marveled at Arroyo’s deemed dry garden which was so delightfully real that I initially considered it nothing special since I live near Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco and wandered there young, taking my first pictures, but then reconsidered the creation, reminding myself that I was in a happy Old Rainy England. With these “new” eyes, I was totally impressed that everything had been imported, placed and planted, resulting in a very real Eaton-Canyon lookalike.

Inside the vendors’ tent, the container cactus display attracted huge crowds and purchases.

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