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Behind the Scenes at the World’s Finest Flower Show

Let G&P take you on a sneak preview of the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We have now completed our gallery “amongst the flowers” on what is a super sunny Sunday.  

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We are proud to showcase a selection of our finest horticultural artists carefully picked to appeal to the discerning gardeners who will be visiting the Show. We also have an artist in residence each day who will be painting whilst taking the time to demonstrate their craft to the public.

The eyes of the gardening World are always firmly focused on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show during this special week. The show has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars.  

This year we have already noticed some changes and it will be discussed all week how the sponsorship and larger show gardens have dropped in number. This has created some interesting new spaces; photography exhibits, RHS advice areas and we in particular liked that five BBC Radio 2 presenters along with renowned garden designers have created Sensory Gardens. Chris Evans and Mary Berry have teamed up on the “taste” garden we can’t wait to hear more from him on the Breakfast Show. Anneka Rice, being an artist herself, has led on the “colour” garden with a beautiful cottage garden which would have made Helen Allingham take up her watercolours! 

95 specialist nurseries, and plant growers as well as countries from across the World have gathered again under the vast roof of the Great Pavilion. Covering nearly 3 acres, with enough room to park 500 London buses, this is a visually stunning treat. Perfect flowers are arranged and displayed to the best of the grower’s ability. We spotted a beautiful display by Wedgwood who are hosting a stunning tea conservatory. A coach fit for a Princess and Hillier’s monumental tree display also caught our eye. 

Of the firms that exhibited at the first Show in 1913, three can still be seen at the Show today: McBean’s Orchids, Blackmore & Langdon and Kelways Plants, all of them in the Great Pavilion.

There are also several friends of the Gallery who exhibit at the Show and we have to say we are especially proud of our artist Simon Gudgeon and his wife Monique’s stand on prestigious Main Avenue. 

Following the enormous success of his last two sculpture gardens at the 2015 and 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, “Team Gudgeon” have created his most inspirational and challenging sculpture garden to date.

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 Simon proudly showed us several major new life-sized pieces including Firebird and Leaf Spirit.

Firebird was inspired by working with principal ballerina Ksenia Ovsyanick.

The sculpture has been fabricated from over 1500 bronze feathers, each one individually shaped and welded in place.

 Along with Firebird, the other major outdoor sculptures are each integrated into a planting scheme designed by his wife Monique.

 The planting has been created to give each piece of art it’s own space and frame, complementing it and showing visitors to the stand the importance of art in the garden and how sculpture can be incorporated into a landscape setting.

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 It worked incredibly well today with a superb fine lined shady walk taking us out of the bright sun. The green oak pergola that forms the chief structure in the garden is perfectly softened by wisteria, roses and evergreen climbers which scramble effortlessly over the main parts of the frame. 

 In past years, the planting scheme has focused on foliage plants rather than flowers, allowing leaf shapes and effects to reflect features found in the sculptures.

However, for 2017, Monique has relied much more on colour to highlight the beauty of the patination to be found on Simon’s works of art. 

This pergola is the highlight and means the sculpture garden is split onto two levels. The “top deck” allows stunning views above Main Avenue and you can wave to the BBC presenters!  

Sunday is always the best time to visit the Artisan Gardens, we did tell you it was a special behind the scenes visit. So with no one around we could pore over the details and admire the incredible effort that goes into creating these miniature garden worlds. 

I had a firm favourite.  In one the year is 1117 A.D and by the edge of a Norfolk river a boatbuilder has been busy. A beautiful oak boat sits amongst the reeds and flowers of one of the most important wetland habitats in the UK.  

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Inspired by the discovery in July 2013, of a 900-year old boat, skilfully built of oak, on the Norfolk Broads. The International Boat Building Training College in Lowestoft has created a threequarter size replica for this garden. It stands on a small jetty surrounded by plants and trees native to the dykes that crisscross the grazing marshes of this region. Common reed, meadowsweet and purple and yellow loosestrife grow on a bank. In an area of shorter fenland vegetation, southern and early marsh orchid, stately royal fern and the much rarer crested buckler fern provide a backdrop to flowering herbs and vegetables.

The garden draws attention to the scenic waterways, rare flora and fauna and the boat-building skills that are such an important part of the Norfolk Broads. As a gallery we have always been very proud of our National maritime history and enjoy the some of the finest marine works of art. 

One of our special treats for visitors to Chelsea is a monumental painting of luscious Spring blossom by the most famous Impressionist artist, Claude Monet.   Painted in 1879 “Vétheuil, les pruniers en fleurs” is a delightful landscape of white frothy blossom as far as the eye can see taking the viewer into a landscape immortalised in his work and only a few miles along the Seine from the most famous garden of them all, Giverny.

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We do hope to see as many of you as possible on our stand SR27 for this exciting gardening week. We look forward to finding out all about your favourite gardens and what made the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 special for you. 

For all of us in the gallery of course it will all be made much more exciting with the brush strokes of Peter van Breda, Paul S. Brown, Stewart Lees and Martin Taylor capturing the atmosphere of Chelsea on canvas. 

 

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