A day out at Chelsea Flower Show

Award-winning garden owner, Geoff Stonebanks gets to go to the Chelsea Flower Show.

living table
A garden table laid out caught Geoff's eye in the Great Pavilion. Image: Geoff Stonebanks
Published on Tagged with ,

I really do appreciate how lucky I was to receive an all-day pass to the world famous Chelsea Flower Show, for volunteering on the National Gardens  Scheme stand at the show. The wristband entitled me to enter the show ground at 6am on the first RHS members’ day, Tuesday 24th May. That’s a full two hours before the general public are allowed in. An early drive from Seaford (not wanting to risk problems with the trains) and paid parking on someone’s drive near the Oval, a short taxi ride and I was in!

Early access

Chelsea Flower Show
A tribute to the Queen from New Covent Garden flower market. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

It can only be described as utterly amazing to be able to walk around in the early hours, with virtually no one around. These two hours, before public entry at 8am, allowed me a full, uninterrupted viewing of the Fresh, Artisan and Show Gardens in total peace and quiet. The wonderful flower filled outline of our Monarch looked incredible in the Great Pavilion. With so much to see in there it was hard to pin down favourites, but for me there were two stand outs in there.  I loved the Bowden’s Floral Garden in conjunction with Belmond British Pullman’s exhibit, set around an authentic 1920’s Pullman carriage that could be walked through to see an extravaganza of hostas and tree ferns on the other side. And a lovely and imaginative table, laid for dinner caught my eye in the Pavilion too.

Show gardens

Wandering through the tiny Artisan gardens in Ranelagh Gardens there was no question which one stood out.  The stunning Senri-Sentei-Garage Garden from Japan. It’s intricate design details set it apart from the rest.

The Harrod’s British Eccentric Garden
The Harrod’s British Eccentric Garden. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

The amazing show gardens on Main Avenue look all the more dramatic when viewed with no crowds, and I loved them all. If I had to pick my favourites though, they would have to be The Harrod’s British Eccentric Garden with its moving shrubs and all. It certainly brought a smile to all who were gathered around it later in the day, but it equally had some amazing planting around it too that really caught my eye.

The garden I really loved was the Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden. I could see some elements of my own garden in the central area. Both of these actually won Silver gilt but nonetheless they certainly did it for me.

And finally

Having seen the poppies at the Tower of London I thought it would be a hard act to follow with knitted ones at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, but they looked incredible and I was able to get up close and personal with them.

All in all, a highly recommended day out, in my case helped with glorious sun throughout!

poppies at Chelsea Flower Show
Crochet poppies at Chelsea Flower Show. Image: Geoff Stonebanks
Geoff Stonebanks

About Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden - Driftwood - he has raised over £76,000 for various charities in 7 years, £40,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners' World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme's Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.
View all posts by Geoff.