26 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show 2013: Products & Ideas


This is the second year the Chelsea Flower Show
has housed the Artists Retreat Section

- one of my favorite areas -

Designers are invited to decorate a summerhouse,
creating inspirational hideaways

Swoon on, my friends...




The mowing path is so creative!

A quintessential English brand,
the Cath Kidston retreat
featured handmade paper roses

Let's take a peek inside the shack,
shall we?




Across the way, I met Rob Ryan in his workshop retreat

Genuinely, I have been a huge fan of his work for years
so it was a real thrill to meet him




With a background in print making,
Rob now is known for his papercut art (laser and by hand)
and poetry-like sayings that sweetly speak to the heart

Transferred onto ceramics and textiles,
you can find his products online and in some of the coolest stores
(including Liberty)

Grabbing things from his real workshop,
here's a limited look at his show retreat




A space that oozes creativity

Moving away from the Artisan Retreats,
I thought this was a clever peat-free compost alternative
made of wool and bracken from the Lake District




And how about an upside down lampshade
as a decorative potting sleeve?




or an old boot?


Ken Muir exhibit


Typically, 'coloured mythical creatures' are banned from the show,
but this year the ban was lifted for charity

I think gnomes are having a bit of a comeback,
for I spied a few at the show

Look at this cutie


University of Reading exhibit


The University of Reading
was promoting the concept of
'A New Millawnium' (clever)

With proper planting,
it is possible to have a full flowering, grass-free lawn
requiring mowing just 3x/year

Goodness me,
can you imagine, lawn gardening?!
My, how beautiful

Ideal for roundabouts and small yards with light foot traffic,
I can see how this could be possible
with nonaggressive clovers, yarrows, buttercups,
English Daisies, violets, and more

According to the university,
medieval paintings indicate lawns of the past were flowered
while grassy lawns were for jousting tournaments


Pippa Small's retreat


Alrighty, I think that pretty much covers it :)

I hope you found some inspiration over the last few days
through the series

It has been an absolute pleasure -
can't you just see me twirling in a meadow of flowers right now?!

'But yet still inside you there will never be a shortage 
to the amount of love that your heart can grow...
until it finally blossoms and its flowers cover the whole world'
-Rob Ryan


P.S. A few of you have asked about how to buy tickets in the future. I order my tickets online in December/January for the May show - they sell out each year but it varies as to when. RHS Members can purchase tickets for Tuesday (when flowers are looking their freshest), and the public can buy tickets for Wed - Sat. Buy tickets through the RHS website here.


- photos by me -

More 2013 Chelsea Flower Show Posts:


23 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show 2013: The Gardens


So I quickly learned that on Press Day 
the international media
is mostly there for the celebrities

which was good news for me as
the garden designers were hanging around their installments, ready to chat :)


Birmingham City Council exhibit


So here were my top picks...

'A Hebridean Weaver's Garden'




To be set in the 1950's on the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland,
this installment shows the traditional making of Harris Tweed
with hand dyed and hand spun wool

Notice the crooked tree you would see on the islands due to high winds?

I love the little brook and
the traditional blackhouse with its aerodynamic roof line and rocks to hold it down 

The original theme and attention to detail are magnificent

Another favorite was
'The Garden Of Magical Childhood'

Raise your hand if you'd like to see this in your backyard :)




So loving those wooden mushrooms and 
the little pond in the grass with hand painted wishes on rocks
- so sweet -

The garden depicts a tea party taking place under a tree house,
designed to encourage viewers to reflect on the preciousness of childhood

Unlike the Show Gardens section,
the Artisan Garden designers cannot excavate
so they placed a horse chestnut tree in the middle of the fort
and built the slope around it

The ivy growing up the tree house was planted first 
to give it time to grow and look more natural

I think any child would love to spend a few hours in this lovely spot
and this magical retreat looks like it has been there forever
(which is tricky with only 5 days to put it together)

As to the only flower requiring guards,
the Lady's Slipper orchid was hiding in the corner at
Le Jardin De Yorkshire




This beauty is a success story of scientists at Kew Gardens 
bringing this girl back from the brink of extinction

The orchid continues to be the rarest wildflower in Britain
and is being reintroduced in the north of England, including Yorkshire

Like the Chelsea Flower Show,
the Tour de France is celebrating its 100th year too
and teamed up with Welcome To Yorkshire
to promote the Tour de France riding through Yorkshire next summer


two guards protect orchid (see arrow)


Let's now go inside the Great Pavilion,
where I was particularly taken by the unusual hanging amaryllis display
by W.S. Warmenhoven (Holland)




Attached with metal cuffs and secured with wires,
these hollow amaryllis stems will be hand watered just one more time this week
from above

Wouldn't this be a fun idea for a wedding or garden fete?

And for something really different,
check out this red poppy from China
 - Meconopsis punicea -

which is related to the gorgeous and rare blue poppy
(seen in background)




But wait, there's more!
I'm just getting warmed up :)

Check out this carefully excavated apple tree




And as always, a stunning display of orchids
by Thailand's Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden




Working with 50,000 orchids, lots of Oasis and wire 
this amazing display came together
with the help of fifteen people over five days

Nearby, 
Paignton Zoo showed their version of past and future gardening
A classic English garden on the left contrasts with an artificial biome on the right

At Paignton Zoo in Devon, crops are grown hydroponically (soil-free) onsite to feed the animals
Sounding futuristic, trays of crops are placed on conveyor belts to sunlight and feeding stations




But for me, here was the show-stopper...

This dress!!




Just look at the exquisite detail,
made from fresh flowers, foliage and ferns

So dreamy




Okay, I will let your floral heart have a rest
Such deliciousness, no?




I have one more Chelsea post coming your way soon
Don't miss it :)

- photos by me -


More 2013 Chelsea Flower Show posts:

21 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show 2013: Press Day!


In January I applied for a press pass
for the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show




I had to submit previous Chelsea Flower Show articles I had written
(fortunately I had covered it for the last two years on my blog)

And my request was approved in March

It was an unforgettable day!
Here, pull up a chair :)

I bee-lined it to the Press Tent to collect the 'Photocall Schedule'
which listed where celebrities would be at appointed times for photo ops

It had me running around the grounds like a scavenger hunt - too fun!

First I saw Emilia Fox at Prince Harry's
B&Q Sentebale Forget-Me-Not Garden




then Dame Helen Mirren at the Burncoose stand in the Great Pavilion






followed by Ringo Starr opening the WaterAid Garden
with his wife Barbara Bach




I missed Helena Bonham Carter by a few minutes
at the 'As Nature Intended' garden

Lots of local celebrities were walking around
and a photographer would ask them if s/he could take their photo




My friend, Suzy, is my garden partner-in-crime 
She usually accompanies me on most of my gardening shoots
and we've always gone to the show together in the past

This year we were separated as I had a solo press pass,
and she worked the gala event at the show just a few hours after I'd left

Although Prince Harry didn't turn up for 'my' Press Day yesterday, 
he did show up at 'Suzy's' gala event last night


Garden designer Jinny Blom with Camilla, Prince Charles, Prince Harry
at B&Q Sentebale Forget-Me-Not Garden


The Queen looking lovely in lavender


Prince Harry teamed with B&Q to highlight his charity, Sentebale,
which cares for vulnerable children affected by HIV in Lesotho
(Prince Harry did his gap year in Lesotho)

Jinny Blom not only designed this garden,
but also designed the 'Healing Garden' with Prince Charles
for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002

I can't wait to show you more gardens

Watch for my next post ;)

- photos 1-6 by me 
7 & 8 by Suzy Wood -


More 2013 Chelsea Flower Show Posts:

19 May 2013

Reporting From The Chelsea Flower Show...


I am off to the Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow

Celebrating its 100th anniversary,
the grandest flower show on earth is this week


(photo from last year)


Armed with a press pass in hand for the private 'celebrity day',
I may catch a glimpse of Prince Harry due to his involvement 
in Sentebale's 'Forget Me Not' Garden
and who knows who else I'll see :)

It is speculated that due to Prince Harry's participation,
tickets sold out in record time this year
and scalpers are asking a whopping £500 per ticket

I'm excited to view the Lady's Slipper, 
Britain's rarest orchid, which has security surrounding it

And there are sure to be stunning and innovate installments
which never disappoint year after year

I can't wait to share it all with you :)

Stay tuned over the next couple of days
for unforgettableness :)

- photo by me -
Source: The Telegraph


More Chelsea Flower Show 2013 posts:

17 May 2013

To Do London: Jamie Oliver Cooking Class


Jamie Oliver has taken the world by storm
with his cookbooks, television shows, and products

Passionate about improving the quality of food in schools,
he also is excited about his cooking classes offered
in his Recipease cafes/storefronts

- two London locations, one in Brighton -




We selected the Vietnamese Street Food class 
which lasted 1.5 hours

In this gorgeous venue
we prepared our meal from scratch 
with an interesting blend of fresh ingredients

This is what we made


[Photo from Recipease website]


Not only was the food delicious,
but the vibe was really fun
all under the guidance of a professional chef
(not Jamie, unfortunately)

With many menus from which to choose,
I'll be back to Recipease to whip up some more yummy dinner ideas

First photo by me
(an unsponsored post)

14 May 2013

English Bluebell Beauties

Growing in ancient forests,
the bluebells are at their peak right now

A breathtaking blue mist
carpeting the forest floor...




The English bluebell is a protected species
found happily growing in ancient woodlands
and particularly fond of blooming under beech trees

And it is well known fact they attract little fairies :)




English bluebells have a graceful curve to their stalks 
due to the weight of their flowers lying on the same side of the stalk

Spanish bluebells are more upright, mainly in gardens, and tend to be more invasive




This year was the first time I'd seen these girls under a cloudless sky,
and, my, how they emitted the most heavenly sweet scent 
released by the warmth of sunlight




With half the bluebell population residing in Britain,
you may not need to travel far to drink in all this deliciousness

Glug, glug :)

- all photos by me -

09 May 2013

The Polo Season

Savoring local sports, 
we made our way
to a polo match




Knowing nothing about the sport,
we were happy we brought a smartphone
to educate ourselves during the day

We were surprised by how casual the event was
and that some of the teams were co-ed

We sat in metal bleachers
and bought our food/drink from the nearby caravans

Costing just £5 for the 'picnic ticket',
we found it to be very affordable






The announcer had hilarious commentary

We even helped with 'divot stomping' at half-time
just like in the film 'Pretty Woman'

All in all,
a great way to spend a few hours with the family

- photos by me -


(an unsponsored post)



04 May 2013

Giddy For Spring

Spring has arrived!

Lifting everyone's spirits
from such a long dreary winter,
everyone has a new spring in their step




This brave neighbor filled a bed with Forget-Me-Nots

I suppose they are so easy to pull out of the ground
and happy to reseed, 
why not?

Beeeaaauuutttifulllll!

This is a long holiday weekend
and the sun is shining,
so I'm running out the door to be outside...

Have a great weekend!

- photo by me -

01 May 2013

From Wigs To Windows


Ever wonder why those 18th century wigs went out of fashion?

Here's a good little story...


George III (wikipedia)

The fashion in the day for men was horsehair (or goat) wigs,
which tended to be scratchy and bug infested

They were powdered with finely ground starch
scented with orange flower, lavender or orris root

When the government started to tax wigs to help fund
the American War of Independence,
men started to ditch the wigs
and just powder their own hair by the 1780s

In 1795, the government taxed the powder,
and out went the wig and powder fashion all together

Meanwhile, another interesting tax sprang up
which you still see evidence of in England 
and other European countries today

The Window Tax




Introduced by King William III in 1696,
this unpopular tax was seen as taxing 'light and air'

The thought was 
the bigger the house, the more windows it would have,
thus the more tax the occupants would pay

A house with fewer than twenty windows could escape the window tax

This tax was easy to access from the street by tax collectors
so occupants started to brick up their windows

Although the window tax was repealed in 1851
under Queen Victoria,
you still see evidence of it today

The horsehair wigs,
not so much
:)

- photo by me -
Source: Wikipedia 1, 2