I was a regular exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show for many years and I never lost the thrill and excitement when the bell rings on the last day. People gather in anticipation as gardens are ripped apart, old ladies struggle with a 2m high delphinium under each arm. It’s like a feeding frenzy when you are overcome with an insatiable appetite for more plants than you can reasonably carry.
Working at the show, I was obliged to take my staff along with more small forest down the pub and out for a meal. Many years, I took my prize specimens home on the tube to much amusement of my fellow travelers. One year, I bought an orange tree with very ripe fruit and decided to take a taxi. The driver was forced to do an emergency stop, causing all the fruit to splat against the window behind him.
How many of my Chelsea plants actually thrived? To be honest, not that many. Being forced, put on display for week and taken on a perilous journey isn’t the best treatment for plants. But I like to think they had fun.
Even though the Chelsea Flower Show has improved for visitors in recent years with the new marquee and the extended the opening to Saturday, 5pm on Friday in the last week of May still holds a special place in my memory.
Written By Alistair Ayres
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