Chelsea Flower Show: great, but was it useful?
As luck would have it, my dear mother is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, as is a very good friend of hers. She rustled up some tickets for the Tuesday afternoon of the Chelsea Flower Show, and forced me into making the effort to actually stop working for an afternoon. She persuaded me that this would be a useful fact-finding mission, and who am I to argue with my interiors mentor? Everything I learned about interiors started with my apprenticeship in her interior design company.
I have to admit I was experiencing a great sense of apprehension, which was less to do with myopic 4 x 4 drivers and more to do with with an irrational trepidation about gardening. Borderline phobia. I seem to have developed this over many years and it even comes with a tag line: “See these fingers? All pink; not a drop of green in sight”. Maybe it is something to do with being ‘forced’ to weed the garden as a child; who knows. All I knew is that I was in for a lot of plants that I couldn’t pick from plastic, slow moving septuagenarians, slow moving octogenarians, seas of cravat’s, blazers, and jolly hockey sticks. And I wasn’t wrong.
Immediately on entering I found myself being jostled by some rather robust elderly ladies who were rather effective with their queue jumping technique. One could be under the misapprehension that these were sweet old dears, but make no mistake, these were hardened Flower Show veterans, whose cunning was matched only by their surprising aggression. Before I knew it they had muscled past our group, followed closely by a solitary immaculately turned out gentleman (with cravat & blazer), who meted out the necessary apologies with a wry knowing smile. If I was to attempt my best Holmesian deduction, I would say he was an ex tank commander who would have given his right arm to have these feral females as his tank crew, back in the day. And in the blink of an eye they were through security and making their way to the show highlights and to grab some bargain or other.
Now, as I was in the company of seasoned visitors, I was happy to be guided through the show and I was really only expecting to be people watching. And staring blankly at plants I couldn’t name, let alone describe. But, I have to admit I was surprised. Pleasantly. Our first call was to what turned out to be the Best Show Garden: The Daily Telegraph Garden. This, I was told, was a very impressive garden at the time; all before learning it was the winner.
Now of course, being an interiors man, I’m looking at the sunken terrace, noting the water feature and wondering what the columns are representative of. This, of course, is entirely the wrong predilection altogether and one I should have kept to myself. Anyway, after being suitably admonished we walked on towards the Pavilion where it turns out I was actually going to be impressed by flowers. Really.
I’m pretty sure that these were gathered from a virtual set belonging to Avatar and that they probably glow in the dark. As you can tell, my knowledge of flowers is about as extensive as a river network in the Sahara desert. But I couldn’t help but be blown away by the magnitude and variety on show, as well as the Herculean effort required to get these things to the show and in bloom at the right time. The mind boggles. Speaking of which:
There is entirely no need for this level of achievement; it only makes the viewer feel so inadequate that they swear to never pick up a trowel ever again. Well that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. Honestly, I have never been so impressed by floral decoration in my entire life. Stunning. However, I’m not seeing a use for this in any interiors projects; which was the stated intention. Not any time soon, anyway. But then I came across this:
This, I thought to myself, is useful stuff. With space being such a premium in London, this is an excellent way to bring some much needed greenery into projects. And it can be used inside. The company in question is inundated with projects, so I shall not mention their name, but suffice it to say that they are not inexpensive and the irrigation system suits larger areas. They insist on a maintenance contract which is augmented by a remote sensing system based on an active SIM card and the installation requires careful planning. Not only is the irrigation system a tad tricky, but the wall requires careful lighting and you’ll need a lighting designer for that. They also produced a wall for my favourite garden at the show: the Monaco Garden.
Yes, of course I liked it because of the architectural element and the shallow pool (yes, I am using a dual meaning there), but the living wall was impressive as well. The courtyard space at the rear was beautifully proportioned too, although I wasn’t so sold on the seating…
If you are seriously interested in the living wall system and have a project that can wait until next year, feel free to get in touch with us at Morph and we’ll endeavour to help out. Otherwise, I didn’t blog about it and you didn’t read it here…