Chelsea may be long gone in most people’s minds, yet for us, having spent the past few weeks in physical and mental recovery, we can now look back on those frantically busy, exhausting eleven days in London with a mixture of relief, satisfaction and, dare I say, pride, in a job well done. And rewarding, not only because we were back on Gold Medal form, but delight at all the wonderful comments made by those who visited our exhibit.
One fabulous comment overheard during the show ‘these are the best clematis blooms at Chelsea, they must be on steroids!’ – NO not steroids, our secret is Maxicrop Tomato Feed – three doses, a couple of weeks apart does the trick! And to get the right effect we use around 500 plants on the display.
We also have a huge team, largely made up of friends, who help us each year, without whom exhibiting at Chelsea would be an impossibility – Sylvia, Janet, Carol, Philip, Alice, Denise, Phil, Les, Martyn and Alexis – and just as importantly, back at base keeping the nursery on track are Gill, Wendy, Deborah and Estee – a huge thank you to them all!!
We had three very special overseas visitors too – Alister Keay, who inspired a teenage Peter with his own unique love of clematis during the months spent working together in New Zealand – and Kinju and Kuniko Atarashi from Japan and pictured left. I was pleased that I had managed to get both ‘Aotearoa’ and ‘Snow Queen’ into bloom for the show as both had been introduced by Alister who was delighted to have his picture taken beside them! And Kinju was pleased to have his photograph taken beside ‘Kinju Atarashi’ a handsome clematis that had been named in his honour.
For 2016 we decided to build another ‘walk through’ exhibit as this had proven really popular with our visitors when we tried it for the first time last year and once again many visitors enjoyed the experience of getting in amongst the plants. (it’s not totally popular with us though – the number of bags smashing into our beautiful blooms, or fingers pulling and stroking them was alarming at times!).
I will take you on a visual tour around our exhibit which displayed around 50 different cultivars – starting around the outside –
The shed once again proved not only useful to us but gave visitors ideas of how to clothe their own – GISELLE, an incredibly vibrant pink, ‘Rahvarinne’ and ‘Ivan Olsson’ were eye-catching on one end – then across the back, planted in an old water trough were the double white ‘Maria Skłodowska Curie’ beneath which was the stunning red REBECCA and double blue DIAMANTINA – cascading over the top of the shed was the purple ‘Aotearoa’, a gorgeous blue called ‘Jenny’ and the white FOREVER FRIENDS – and around the other end, the bluey mauve ‘Kinju Atarashi’, the red and white ‘Viva Polonia’ with my dad’s introduction, ‘Fond Memories’, above.
On the outside of the tall railing were – the deep cherry pink LIBERTY, the blue DIANA’S DELIGHT, a gorgeous white from Japan ‘Fuyu-no-tabi’ with the amazing JACKMANII PURPUREA clothing the end post, beneath which BLUSHING BRIDESMAID (previously ‘Kaiser’) made a stunning sight with her rich pink double blooms.
Adorning the arch, SUPER NOVA (new this year) bred by Wim Snoeijer at Jan van Zoest’s nursery in The Netherlands, made quite an impact – while the beautiful pale mauve ‘Louise Rowe’ married with the rich purple of ‘Rasputin’ and mid pink ‘Innocent Glance’ looked amazing along with the flamboyant CRYSTAL FOUNTAIN scrambling at their feet.
The other side of the arch saw the charming palest mauve-blue LUCKY CHARM (another new introduction from Wim) mixed with the glorious reddy-purple ‘Warszawska Nike’, a pale pink ‘Innocent Blush’, a creamy-white with a rose blush called THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX had ‘Ivan Olsson’ clambering at their feet.
On the outside of the short railing were (top to bottom) SAMARITAN JO whose pale silvery-pink blooms are outlined with reddy-purple, the cherry red BOURBON, a pretty mauve-blue ‘Blue Eyes’ with the silvery CHELSEA scrambling at their base.
The obelisk (right) had Wim’s new ROSALYN a pretty double dusky red viticella partnering the texensis PRINCESS KATE which was also bred by Wim – they certainly made an eye-catching sight together! Beneath these were the delightful ‘Piilu’ and the rich blue PARISIENNE.
On the inside of the short railings, pictured below (right to left) - the single and semi-double white from Poland ‘Jerzy Popiełuszko’ looked stunning with the red ‘Solidarność’ (also from Poland) with the double purple ‘Shikoo’ from Japan hovering over them. Further along the light blue ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’ (pronounced Chumley) combined beautifully with a pink called LASTING LOVE and the stunning white 'Laura Denny' along the bottom.
Along the inside of the tall railings were ‘Betty Corning’ a gorgeous pale mauve-blue viticella whose dainty nodding bell-shaped flowers have a delicate perfume under which the blue ‘Stefan Franczak’ made quite a sight alongside a white called ‘Snow Queen’ and new PICOTEE (bred by Wim Snoeijer) whose bright cerise pink blooms have white bars.
Around and beneath the stile was the very short growing pale pink FILIGREE.
And cascading down from above the window ‘Jenny’, ‘Aotearoa’ and FOREVER FRIENDS again – plus to the left of the door tumbling down was the unique ‘Tie Dye’ – I love this and grow it in my garden through an apricot coloured climbing rose called ‘Meg’ (available from Peter Beales Roses) – they’re fabulous together!
Well I hope you have enjoyed reading my Chelsea review, and of course if you were not able to visit the show, I hope that this has given you an insight as to what you will see if you go next year.
Happy gardening everyone!