Chelsea Flower Show 2017

A Day Out at the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

What a privilege it is to go to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on press day: no crowds, the chance to get up close to the gardens and plants, plus a bit of celebrity spotting. And the sun shone. Well, someone’s got to do it.

 It is well documented that the actual number of gardens is lower this year than in the past, but the eye for detail and amount of care taken in the design and production of the gardens that are there is immense. There's always something for everyone at Chelsea but for me designer Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Morgan Stanley Garden' is superb. Breathtaking plants, immaculate design and the whole lot is donated to a charity once the razzmatazz is over. And plenty of lupins – always nice.

Chelsea Flower Show 2017 Chris Beardshaw

F Cadwallader The Poetry Lover's Garden Chelsea 2017

One of the artisan gardens was a treasure of design and planting. 'The Poetry Lover's Garden' designed by Fiona Cadwallader was everything I love about a garden. Somewhere to sit (obviously!), superb plants, clever combinations all under the dappled sun. Simply gorgeous. And it was all done without a major sponsor – something that I imagine is getting more difficult year after year.

BuSalvia Crystal Blue Chelsea Flower Show 2017 2t while all thSalvia Crystal Blue Chelsea Flower Show 2017e attention seems to surround the show gardens, I love a bit of a rummage in the Great Pavilion. Under the massive structure are the world’s best nursery folk. All specialists in what they grow and all willing to share their top growing secrets. It's a great place to learn and to fall in love with new plants. The Chelsea Plant of the Year competition is held in there and this year a dwarf mulberry won. However, for me the runner up - Salvia Crystal Blue - was the best. A stunning shade of light, sky-blue blue flowers perfect in pots or mixed borders. Email me and I'll see if I can get a few sorted. 

Then of course there are the celebrities. You may have heard Chris Evans doing his radio programme from the show. I saw it! I was as close to Mary Berry as Paul Hollywood ever got. I deliberately didn't stare as Joanna Lumley strolled by with Nigel Havers and an actress I was supposed to know – sorry, there was a stunning delphinium in full bloom that caught my eye. Ainsley Harriot looked smiley as was Carol Kirkwood, weather presenter (you know, the one who did Strictly). There were more, lots more, but the plants far outshone anyone there. Sadly, I was booted out before the Queen and her pals arrived. Maybe I can stay longer next year.

Phil's Chelsea Flower Show 2017 Fact File

· Chris Beardshaw’s garden 'only' got a silver-gilt medal – what do those judges know?!
· The beautiful artisan poetry garden received a silver – ditto!!
· The mulberry is sold out but I'm doing my best to get my hands on that salvia.
· Never wear new shoes to an event where you have to walk for miles.
· London Plane trees make me cough. A lot.
· One lukewarm coffee and a piece of dry flapjack costs £6.
· Is it really that interesting to photographers to record Jennifer Saunders buying a packet of carrot seed? Apparently so. The word 'scrum' sprang to mind.
· Lupins are in.
· Purple coloured blooms are everywhere.
· Chelsea is and always will be a special place for all things gardening.