Three Weeks, Three RHS Gardens and Shows

More by accident than by design we have ended up visiting three RHS shows in gardens in consequtive weeks and I am not sorry!

As I sit here writting this with the rain pouring down outside the window I still marvel at the fact that we managed three days over three weeks in perfect weather.

RHS Garden Wisley Flower Show

Wisley is our closest RHS garden and I always find it a place of tranquility and inspriration. I love wandering around the it looking at the flowers and now was a great time to visit as there was so much in bloom.

Our visit also coincided with the Wisley Flower show. Unlike the Chelsea flower show with it’s show gardens, its namesake at Wisley was more a shopping experience with most of the grass area taken over by plant and garden object d’art sellers. We wandered around the exhibitors and made a mental note of some of the things that we might be interested in which included plants and garden sculptures. I think that we genuinely intented to exercise some restraint and only buy some of these things we had identified but still came home with them all!

RHS Hyde Hall

The RHS has five gardens in all but we have only visited two of them – Wisley and Harlow Carr. We had a free night in a hotel voucher which we’d procured through buying two tyres (don’t ask) so we decided to visit a third. We found a couple of hotels that were close to Hyde Hall in Essex. Bizarrely, both were called The White Hart, one in Braintree and the other in Coggeshall. We plumped for Coggeshall and I’m really glad that we did as Braintree wasn’t really anything to get excited about but Coggeshall turned out to be a beautiful little place.

Next day after a good night in our ‘free’ hotel we drove off to Hyde Hall arriving in time for breakfast. It was our intention to have a drink before going in but all their credit card machines weren’t working and they were only accepting cash, something that we didn’t have. Fortunately a kindly person behind the counter took pity on us and allowed us to put it on the tab. I think we might be the only people to have opened a tab at RHS Hyde Hall!

At opening time we went into the gardens and were met with a sense of excitement that we had no idea where to go. We have been to Wisley so many times that we now know every nook and cranny. Here we had no idea where anything was and so we were able to enjoy walking around and discovering something new around each corner.

And there was so much to see and take in. In many ways it was, of course, similar to Wisley but individual too. The Sky Medow was a particularly good example. While Wisley is bordered by the A3 Hyde Hall appears to be in the middle of nowhere. The Sky Meadow is such an apt name for an area planted with exoctic species and overlooking the valley below.

After enjoying ourselves wandering around the grounds we ended up at a plant sale and, yes, bought yet more to put in the garden. All we needed to do was get them home in one piece and find space for them!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

We have been to the Chelsea Flower Show a couple of times before in 2016 and 2019. This year was a bit different as, due to the pandemic of course, the show had been moved from it’s traditional date in May to September. This meant that things were a little different for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the flowers that were on display were slightly different than you would normally see to reflect the season. I am always impressed with how the exhibitors manage to get their flowers to be open and in full bloom exactly at the right time. A trick that I am yet to perfect in my own garden.

Secondly, in the main pavilion at least, everything was spaced out to, I assume, allow for social distancing. In previous years this indoor space has had almost every nook and cranny packed with interesting things to look at. This year it just looked a bit sparse.

We arrived early at shortly past the opening time of 8am. The reason for this is that this way you stand the best chance to actually get close to the show gardens without having to fight your way in. Given that we are still supposed to be distancing this is a good thing. By the time we were ready to leave some three hours later the place was heaving and there was no chance to socially distance. If I was going to get Covid that would have been an obvious place to get it.

I don’t know whether I was just expecting it to be that way or if it actually was but the show felt a bit muted to me. The show gardens didn’t seem to be as extravagant or showy as they have been previously but some other areas, such as the balcony and small spaces gardens I thought were really excellent.