Any Other Topics: Chelsea
Started by: David NicholsonGo to latest contribution by Helen Johnstone, 31 May 2014, 17:11. Go to bottom of this page.
Presumably somebody went? I didn't, wouldn't if it was at the top of our road but thats partly my aversion to all things London, but would be nice to see some pictures. BBC coverage abysmal as usual in my view.
To be honest I was going to do Chelsea but by the time I priced up tickets travel costs and maybe an overnight accommodation, it was way more than I wanted to pay. I did think the BBC coverage was ok but lacked something, I did go to Malvern and may do Tatton Park, but let’s be honest I can buy a lot of alpines for the garden for the entrance fees to some of the shows.
I totally agree about entrance prices. I can order £50 worth of alpines and have them delivered to the door for the price of chelsea admission, £58. The same applies to most venues. The organisers expect people to go there and spend money on top of admission and travel. Many of us are pensioners, not rich londoners. Harrogate spring show has deteriorated over the years as the small nurseries have been priced out and mainly the "supermarket" type sellers are increasing. Most of these sellers do not know about the plants they sell. Part of the experience for me was to talk to the growers about their plants. I no longer attend harrogate show after about 30 years. I like to grow the unusual native plants but am finding them harder to source since many of the small specialist nurseries have closed. Even the Plant Finder is not much use these days. Does anyone know of nurseries that supply a good range of uncommon native plants by mail order? Primroses and bluebells etc. are easy to come by but what of the native saxifrages or high alpines of our own country? Seed, if listed in the AGS and Scottish rock lists, are difficult to germinate. I know I am in a minority, perhaps of one, but my interest has been for about forty years to find and photograph our own flora in situ. It is useful for an amateur botanist to grow our native plants from seed and watch them grow to understand how they survive in the wild.
Another point I should have mentioned is, where were the alpines on chelsea? Were there no alpine growers with a display? I did not see any. Native plants hardly got a mention either. This is typical of the BBC over the years. They seem to shun our own flora. Why do the BBC not show plants on springwatch? I have asked this question for years of the bbc to no avail.
Here is a sentence from 'The Morville Hours' by Katherine Swift which you really have to read in context to see its true derivation, but it does have some resonance with what Ian says:
'...one formal, centralising in tendency and hierarchical, spreading from the south; the other tribal and bardic with an emphasis on the spirituality of the place and the poetic imagination of the individual...'.
I think it is unfair to castigate the coverage of Chelsea completely because it tries to cross the line between these two but tends to the former. There was some really interesting coverage - I liked the 'crate' of plants with some of the background of the way plants were introduced in the past using the famous 'Wardian Case'. This was imaginative and the plants came from the modern day plant hunters Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones. A number of the gardens had poignant themes which were examined more closely and so were not all to do with drama and exhibition (and ostentation). I would like to have seen more of David and Stella Rankin's display - there was just a little in passing.
I have the same ambivalent feelings about Chelsea that the above quote expresses but there is no compulsion to spend £50 or £60 and go (plus travel fares etc, etc), and there is a huge amount of skill and knowledge put into it which anyone with an interest in plants finds hard to ignore. Maybe there should be an alternative media coverage for the more knowledgeable and specialised of gardeners like those who may have a deep interest in native plants, or alpines, or who are simply a little grumpy? (which happens when you find your particular interests ignored by most others). We do get lectured a little by the presenters (or our intelligence not fully taken into account) but I'd be hard pressed to know how I would come across in the same position?
I do agree about the almost complete lack of coverage about alpines - and have done for many years. There are signs that this is changing and that the RHS is waking up to some of its centralising tendencies - viz: a few more articles in The Garden and The Plantsman and letters from eminent AGS members such as Barry Starling. Unfortunately we are just 6000 or 7000 gardeners compared with the 400 000 membership of the RHS, so inevitably can be relatively sidelined, even if we do know a great deal about plants.
As someone who attended Chelsea this year I can confirm that there was at least one alpine grower, D'Arcy & Everest in the floral marquee as well as the usual bulb merchants. However given the 100 odd exhibits in the marquee and the countless trade stands, including the AGS, there is a lot for the BBC and other media to cover despite what can seem like endless footage. I felt that the coverage I saw gave a good cross section of the show and it was good to see a move away from so many repeats of the same coverage and also an increased coverage of the floral marquee. I think changes are afoot and I sense that there is a growing move towards more focus on plants than show gardens - time will tell.
We had a stand at Chelsea did we win a medal are there any official pictures, I didn’t see any mention on this site about our involvement in Chelsea but I might have missed it.