What a privilege to be able to attend this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show! Shew, what a mouthful, and rightly so – they deserve the impressive title! It certainly is THE show to attend on the gardening calendar, and this year it lived up to all expectations. There is so much to share from the show that it forced us to make some really difficult decisions on what to publish – I wish I had a 200-page magazine that we could dedicate to the show (although we still wouldn’t fit everything in!). As that isn’t the case, we have been forced to pare the show down to the highlights, and will share them and other insights from the show in several articles over the next few months. Plus, we will also be uploading loads of photographs and snippets from the show onto our website (www.thegardener.co.za) so that you don’t miss out – be sure to have a look.
In this issue we delve into the major themes of the show. From past years we know that whatever the designers embrace at the show will cause a major shift in the way we garden, the words we read and the plants that will be available to us in the upcoming seasons.
Thankfully (or maybe not!) garden gnomes have been banned from the show for over 100 years. Interestingly enough, the RHS temporarily lifted its 100-year ban on these ‘brightly-coloured mythical creatures’ in 2013! They even conducted research into these polarising persons (although it has been said that the research was completely flawed and unscientific)! This research revealed that 15 garden designers found ‘strong approval for the permanent presence of the little people at the show’. Another comment was ‘I am sitting on the gnomic fence’...
Of course, wherever there is controversy, there is a society. The Garden Gnome Liberation Front (yes, it actually exists) and the Garden Gnome Emancipation Movement (these guys ‘free’ gnomes from their ‘enslavement’ in flowerbeds, lawns and gardens! Who would have thought that the innocent garden gnome would become the centre of passionate debates and movements? Maybe its because the UK really has nothing else major to worry about... Whatever the reason, I am strongly in favour of the garden gnome. I even have a few in my garden, secretly hidden for visitors to discover, and I love them!
Call it what you will, but the ultimate freedom that we all have is choice – the choice to create and include whatever we want in our personal space, the space that we call our garden. Our paradise, my paradise!