Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chelsea Flower Show 2012: the last hurrah

Thank goodness that's over. The weather has been fabulous, the gardens were wonderful and the marquee was spectacular, with an astonishingly high standard of plants on display. But the Chelsea Flower Show is a really tiring week for me, and I've got to the point where I am just itching to spend some time in my own garden.

But I couldn't let the show end without showing you the final moments. I was at Chelsea this afternoon, manning the cloakroom along with the other Plant Heritage volunteers.  It's hard work, but a really enjoyable afternoon - you're working alongside people who know their plants and have interesting things to say about what they think of the show. If you want a free ticket to Chelsea, volunteers get passes that last the whole day.
One of the best - and the busiest - moments is when the bell rings at 4pm to signal the start of Break Down. That's the moment that the show gardens and the exhibitors in the Great Pavilion start taking their creations apart. Many of them sell the plants or cut flowers off and you can get real bargains.
(Not all the exhibitors sell off - the best thing is to ask earlier in the day, so you know where to join the queue.)

The cloakroom is a wonderful vantage point from which to see the public take Chelsea home. It always reminds of that bit in Macbeth, where Burnham Wood comes to Dunsinane.  I suspect it's a lot prettier though.

The plants seem to come in waves - first, there will be a wave of clematis, then a wave of roses, then a wave of foxgloves and so on. I don't know why this happens, since all the stands start selling at once.

But the biggest cause of wonder - and the question on everyone's lips - is: "How on earth are they going to get that lot home on the Tube?"