Our little Chelsea Flower Show

27 May

About 6 miles away from us on the road to Pontrieux is a château on the banks of the River Treiux called La Roche-Jagu. Built back in the 15th century, it is the only surviving fortress out of fifteen that once lined the valley.

Today, La Roche-Jagu hosts special exhibitions, concerts, has some fantastic gardens open to the public and every year in May hosts what we call, a small Chelsea Flower Show; La Fete des Jardins.

La Roche-Jagu

Although there are no show gardens here it is more than made up by the numerous stall holders selling their plants, flowers and vegetables covering the whole spectrum. It is never crowded making it a pleasure to stroll round and take in everything that is there. The plants are good value and of good quality too. Oh, and it is free to enter. Even the car park is free. I am going to miss all this free parking when we return to Blighty!

Over the years we have walked, or rather, staggered away with countless plants that have helped us to build up our garden here.

Nearly all of the exhibitors are local making it easy to visit their nurseries at a later date to stock up on even more of their plants. Too tempting for me especially when l am on a strict budget!

So, to the real Chelsea Flower Show. Come on now, be really honest, what did you think of this years show? I will be honest with you;  I am rather disappointed really and l can’t put my finger on it. I have always had mixed feelings about Chelsea; the way most of the plants have either been held back or brought on makes for a totally false planting scheme. Or the fact that, particularly this year, plants like the specimen trees are way off the price scale running into thousands of pounds resulting in gardens that we can only look on and admire for their design and artistic qualities. Is that what Chelsea is all about? But we can all take something from the design can’t we? Look at the trends over the past years ranging from introducing the colour blue into the garden to decking and lighting. Surprisingly this year looks like it is the use of water which, again, shows how off the scale the big gardens are. But this year l have found it hard to find anything that has inspired me. Sure, l love those specimen trees but not at that price!

So what is it? I have watched a lot of the coverage on TV and, as usual, find myself pulled towards the artisan gardens. The Show Gardens have left me cold apart from Bunny Guinness. She should have got a gold.  Perhaps, if l was a lottery winner, l would commission Cleve West to design me a garden, but an intimate one with lots of natural planting, trees, maybe even a suitable water feature oh, and a walled vegetable garden. I would love to own or even work in a walled kitchen garden. It is a long held wish of mine that l hope to achieve one day.

For what it is worth my No 1 garden is……drum roll………A Child’s Garden in Wales. I really like this garden and l suppose in some ways reminds me of my very first memories of being in a garden when l was probably no more than 4 years old when we lived in Surrey with my hands in the soil, playing about more than anything, of course. It was an old Victorian house with a typical small back garden with a yard, shed and some trees and even today l sometimes get taken back to that garden when a certain soily smell appears when l am digging. Strange how smells bring back such strong memories.

Well roll on Hampton Court and Tatton Park. Now these are two shows l would definitely like to visit.


Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Gardens, May


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12 responses to “Our little Chelsea Flower Show

  1. chicaandaluza

    May 27, 2011 at 09:47

    What a stunning chateau – just like home! (I wish). And thanks for reminding us about the Chelsea Flower Show – I hadn´t realised it was on so have had a good look round the site and think I have to agree with your choice of favourite garden, along with one called Postcard from Wales and 2 others – Yorkshire Art and The Tree House Garden. Not sure if those are exactly the right names but I enjoy the gardens which look like gardens rather than those which focus on hard architectural features. Oh dear, what an old biddy I am turning into! Grey and dull here today…

    • trevorhunt

      May 27, 2011 at 17:38

      It was a close run thing between Postcard from Wales and the one l chose. I will look at the ones you mentioned. i am with you 100% on enjoying gardens that look like gardens so welcome to old age thinking!! Ha!
      Still windy, but sunny and dry again. Have a great weekend and hello to The Big Man!! Who is he? Is he as big as you say?

      • chicaandaluza

        May 29, 2011 at 13:32

        HI there Trevor. Big Man is my “partner” – we met out here in Spain six years ago. if you can bear to go back and read any of the entries under “City Slicka” you can read the story. I wrote a book (as did half a million other people) about my experiences out here…a small sniff of a publisher but nothing definite yet. I changed our names in it to Juan and Maria as (being optimistic and hoping it may one day get published), I didn´t want to get marched out of town for libelling (is that a word?) half the village! Big Man is big of belly and big of heart. My girlfriends started to call him my “Big Man” and it stuck for the blog. We´re trying to get rid of the belly, but I don´t want the heart to change!

  2. Toffeeapple

    May 27, 2011 at 12:17

    I tried to watch the BBC coverage of the show but, to be honest, I found it awfully dull. I’d rather attend your local show. The Child’s Garden in Wales is too close to my experience of growing up there to like it.

    • trevorhunt

      May 27, 2011 at 17:23

      Hi Toffeeapple, Yes, dull is a good word to use! I have similar experiences in my life of places l have no wish to return as well so l know what you mean! Have a great weekend.

  3. Damo

    May 28, 2011 at 11:08

    It looks like a lovely place to visit, wander around and buy some great plants. Free parking, what a novel idea! We’ll be in France two weeks today, can’t wait!

    • trevorhunt

      May 29, 2011 at 08:29

      Hi Damo, Nice to see you here. Hope you have a great holiday here. Are you coming to Brittany again. If so, call by it would be nice to see you? Don’t forget that phrase book!

  4. Janet/Plantaliscious

    May 28, 2011 at 23:06

    Free parking and good value plants? Sounds perfect! Re Chelsea, I get very frustrated with the coverage, as not all the planting combinations are unrealistic but they never showcase them, and these are the bits that even “normal” people could take away and reproduce. For the rest, I can admire the beautifully designed and finished hard landscaping but being on a very tight budget, none of it is even remotely attainable. I really enjoyed Malvern, but have no desire to ever visit Chelsea…

    • trevorhunt

      May 29, 2011 at 08:35

      Hi Janet, I agree with your comment re. TV coverage and for those of us that can’t make it to the show then we depend on good, full balanced coverage from the BBC. This is what we make our judgements on, after all. Having said that, l think l saw enough to say to myself that Chelsea is not for me either. We used to live the other side of the Malvern Hills and loved visiting The Malvern Spring and Autumn Shows. Much more genteel with a terrific backdrop. Grey here today and STILL windy!

  5. Toffeeapple

    May 29, 2011 at 19:49

    I spoke with my daughter yesterday, she went to the show and thought it disappointing, particularly the Diarmuid Gavin structure. Even the show gardens were difficult to spot, she said.

  6. trevorhunt

    May 30, 2011 at 07:08

    Hi Toffeeapple,I see the Diarmuid Gavin structure won the People’s Award. I wonder if he would have won it had the hanging cradle part not been allowed by the RHS? He has certainly raised the barrier. What’s next l wonder?


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