Three years ago we went to the Chelsea Flower Show because it was a huge event and was on my bucket list. Now we were back again partly because we enjoyed it so much last time and now we’re even older and more into gardening than before so were looking for ideas.
I thought that we had done quite well by getting there from Reading right for opening time at 8am. However, I was quickly trumped by a lady I met while waiting for Helen to get a coffee. Chatting to random strangers is a Thompson thing and I remember us losing my grandfather on Snelsmore Common as he’d found some random stranger to talk to about chickens. The batton has clearly been passed down to me. Anyway, I digress. It turns out that this woman had flown in for the show from Boston. No, not Brexit loving Boston in Lincolnshire but Massachusetts (via Switzerland)! She was also a serial attendee this being the fourth time!
Today was RHS members day when we members (yes we have joined too) get to go round the show without all the hoi polloi. This didn’t seem to have reduced the numbers in any way at all in fact even at just past opening time it was difficult to get anywhere near the front to see the displays.
I was quite surprised to see that the RHS had a stand selling memberships, this being members day and all but when I got talking to the guy manning the stand (… insert your own joke here …) he said that they had sold 170 memberships yesterday, the first members day. No wonder it was so busy if there were all those non-members in too!
Now I know that you will all want to know what we thought of “Catherine’s” garden but I have to disappoint you and say that we didn’t go and take a look. The queues were horrendous even at opening time and it wasn’t as if she’d dug it herself was it?
There was, of course, plenty more to see other than Kate’s oversubscribed garden. Some of the displays are just amazing and leave you wondering just how long they take to install. Yorkshire, yes the whole of Yorkshire, had installed the miniature canal that you can see in the header and while the lock didn’t open it did have running water and they had even planted stinging nettles. Others were less ambitious but had trees that look as if they had been planted 100 years ago but had been transported in.
Given the complexity of these installations and the time it must take for them to be setup and taken down again at the end of the week one wonders if those poor Chelsea pensioners ever get to wander their grounds without dodging some truck carrying trees (or a lock)!
It’s certainly not cheap for the exhibitors. I have no idea what they pay for a slot but one I spoke to (…) told me that it cost them £210 per device just for wifi access for the five days. Of course this is all reflected in the price of what they are selling and it would be easy to get carried away but we had to resist. We did buy an ornament though – that wifi won’t pay for itself!