The lead up to this year's Chelsea Flower Show has been a nail biter: the weather has been miserable so many plantings were not ready and had to be changed. But the sun came out for the opening and the Queen was celebrating her 60th Diamond Jubilee and the (gardening) world was at peace.
It's a really big show, with numerous gardens and floral displays in competition for the medals. The only predominate theme was a return to traditional, romantic and formal gardens. There were few modern ones, Jubilee sentimentality was nil (except in Jersey above) and green walls are out this year. Many of the big flashy, expensive gardens were just that: a lot of wow and bling but not that interesting.
The Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden Garden was one of 9 Gold medal winners in the Show garden category and justly so. Since 1953 there has been a buffer zone between North and South Korea which has now become a nature sanctuary. This garden replicates the abandoned watch tower, barbed wire fence, cans and bottles with letters between separated families. Many of the Korean plants died in transit and so English plants were substituted. It is very naturalistic, with water, ferns, exotic wild flowers and Korean native plants. Once you look beyond the barbed wire, inside was a very calm environment, where blackbirds have already found a home.
Another winner is The Telegraph Garden by Sarah Price. She is a young and rising star, having done the new Olympic Park. Hers is a very naturalistic design with grasses, limestone based pools and meadow flowers.
In the Artisan category, Satoyama Life, a Japanese garden, was a Gold winner. This exquisite, stylised old Japanese garden has a nostalgic feel. The small building is covered with Japanese moss, as is the ground covering.
The wall is made out of rounded stones, and there are stunning red Japanese maples. The planting is very simple and yet complicated at the same time. A treasure.
Fresh Gardens is a new category that celebrates the small, innovative and brave. Shockingly,Easigrass, a company that makes artificial grass, won best fresh garden. It's a bit like a plastic grass cage with orchids and tulips (!) trapped in the middle.
What should have won is the sophisticated and understated Renault Garden. The vertical feel of the garden is very striking, with stark pillars out of pudding stone, a natural waste material and cobbled stone walkway. It is meant to represent a secluded valley in France. It is recyclable, with chairs made of plastic bottles and after the show it will be taken down and reconstructed at a school.