Chelsea Flower Show Goes From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
The Chelsea Flower Show is so big and so glorious that it can accommodate some silliness within its midst without losing its dignity. This year's absurdity, and controversy, was easily supplied by one of the infamous stars of Top Gear, James May. Top Gear glorifies fast cars and the car culture and is proudly anti-environmental.
Usually fake flowers are banned at the Show, but its star wanted to create a plasticine garden featuring plasticine cars but that was a step too far for the organisers and he was told to do flowers. And so he has. It smells like a birthday party, insects are attracted to it and May admits he is "rubbish at design". And that sums it up.
The Fenland Alchemist Garden is a wildflower garden in an eccentric setting. A winding path leads the viewer to a little shed, built from reclaimed materials. Inside it one can see the hovel where the magical fen dweller lives. The plants include age-old species used for medicine and alchemy. It's all be made out of used, recycled and discarded materials and is luxuriously magical to see. News flash: It won Best Courtyard Garden award this year.
Future Nature is designed as a city garden, using rainwater and urban drainage, a green roof, storm water planters and a living tower.
It's the tower that is so spectacular. More than 10 feet high, it has drought-resistant plants up two sides of the column. They cover vertical walls with different green plantings that will be a magnet for birds and bugs. The other two sides will also be a habitat for birds. There are all kinds of pot shards, newspapers, pine cones, bricks, bark, logs and egg cartons artfully and beautifully stacked into the shelves. Truly a work of art. The whole thing will be relocated to Yorkshire after the show.
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