Chelsea 2013 – The Pavilion

The pavilion is a great showcase for good nurseries all displaying their plants growing to perfection; the winners of the medals are always the nurseries where the owners are passionate about what they do.  A chance for the ‘big names’ to strut their stuff, Hilliers again presented us with so much to look at and it rivalled some of the show gardens for the class of its design and planting.

Vibrant colour and well-grown plants on the Hilliers stand

Vibrant colour and well-grown plants on the Hilliers stand

The cooler weather may have made it difficult for the growers to get plants ready for the show but at least it meant that they remained in tip-top condition during the week.

I noticed a new trend this year; many were selling ‘something’ not just taking orders or selling catalogues.  Seeds were an obvious choice even from nurseries whose main business is actually selling plants; others were selling small packs containing sample plants (I think they were rooted cuttings and so sidestepped the rule about NOT selling plants.  I sympathise with them, the cost of being at Chelsea must be enormous, a large percentage of their trade for a smaller nursery.  Of course they want to be present to establish themselves in the eyes of the visitors but perhaps they need the opportunity of some instant payback.  Selling something there and then is necessary for them.  Perhaps the RHS needs to address this.  I am not suggesting that the Pavilion becomes a giant market place, but with all the technology available today perhaps one could order and pay for plants at the stand and collect the plants from a collection area.  Some of the bulb companies take orders at the show and you give credit card details, payment being taken when the bulbs are dispatched; this could also work for plants by mail order which would surely encourage everyone to buy from committed nurserymen rather than buy later from unhelpful garden centres that are mostly just bringing plants from Holland, and we all know the problems that this causes in the long run.

I always head for the Tulips displays, there is nothing like seeing the colours ‘in life’ to encourage me to begin thinking about my autumn bulb order now.  All the tulips were in excellent condition, and why wouldn’t they be, they are still flowering in many UK gardens.  The following caught my eye, but I am very happy with my selections this year that came from seeing other bloggers tulips actually growing.  So what tulips worked well for you this year?

Tulip Curley Sue

Tulip Curley Sue

T. Pink Diamond, Queen of Night, Ciy of Vancouver

T. Pink Diamond, Queen of Night, City of Vancouver

Tulip Marilyn

Tulip Marilyn

Tulip Avignon

Tulip Avignon

Does anyone know the name of this? my system failed

Does anyone know the name of this? my system failed

My most interesting conversation was with the knowledgeable staff on the East Malling Reseach stand.  They are doing research into the problems that could be caused by warmer winters.  I have a similar problem; the winters here aren’t reliably cold enough for me to grow apples and pears so I will be very interested when their site is updated to included chill factor requirements for different varieties.  Also I hadn’t realised that ALL dwarfing rootstock trees don’t have a tap root, which for trees planted in drought prone area can make a huge difference to its survival.

Dwarfing root stock

Dwarfing root stock

A couple of other plants attracted my attention, maybe they’ll find their way into the garden next year.

Ixia Mabel

Ixia Mabel

Dahlia Magenta Star

Dahlia Magenta Star

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