Chelsea 2016

Chelsea Flower Show 2016
ch2016-01  Our display represented the ascent through alpine meadows to the snowy, rocky peaks above. ch2016-02  In a few places the meadows were pierced by stony places reaching the edge, as with this scree. ch2016-03  The scree was planted with Buckiniczia cabulica, Aciphylla, Corydalis and Oxalis. ch2016-04  In another place the rocks provided a mossy amphitheatre, planted with Primula, Meconopsis, Corydalis and other small plants for cool, damp places.
ch2016-05  Here were many of the 55 varieties of Primula in the display. Many of them were beautifully scented, particularly in the evening. ch2016-06  Primula lilacina is tall (and grew about 2 cm a day during the week!) ch2016-07  None of us had ever seen Primula cawdoriana in flower until four days before the show opened. It was grown from seed that we were given that had been stored in a freezer for decades. ch2016-08  Primula incana, an American species, has tiny flowers, but is none the less beautiful.
ch2016-09  The planting of the 'meadows' was masterminded by florist Monica Wylie (, ably supported by Coreen. Monica is one of our team, and came straight to Chelsea from doing the flowers for a wedding. A eminent landscape designer commented that "there is a degree of artistry here that raises you to a new level". ch2016-10  In another section different types of Primula, including those formerly known as Dodecatheon and Cortusa, mingle together. ch2016-11  Primula (Dodecatheon) meadia, one of the American 'shooting stars'. ch2016-12  Where the alpine plants reached the edge of the display at this point, plants from North and South America, Europe and New Zealand mingle. All seven continents were represented – even Antarctica!
ch2016-13  We almost always have a 'river' valley (but without water), where damp-loving plants flourish. Here Mimulus naiandinus and 'Highland Red' mix with Ourisia coccinea and Narcissus 'Baby Moon', with Chiastophyllum oppositifolium arching over them. ch2016-14  In another boggy corner insect-eating Pingicula grandiflora (butterwort) grew with some primulas. ch2016-15  Blue Meconopsis attracted endless attention, but there were also some with yellow flowers, and the brilliant red Meconopsis punicea. ch2016-16  The double-flowered form of Trillium grandiflorum was there in abundance …
ch2016-17  … with the old but rare orchid Dactylorhize 'Harold Esslemont' … ch2016-18  … and the much newer Dactylorhiza 'Broomhill Beauty' … ch2016-19  … and Lewisia rediviva in its white-flowered form. ch2016-20  The dark-flowered Primula tangutica showed up with Primula bullata var. forrestii behind it …
ch2016-21  … and with Meconopsis punicea against the roof of the pavilion … ch2016-22  … and with the other Primula and the Meconopsis together. ch2016-23  When the show opened to the public we arrived to find – a gold medal.  Of course we were delighted. ch2016-24  Then for five days we talked to the visitors. We seemed to be asked a million times about the blue flowers – Meconopsis – and a million photographs were taken.
ch2016-25  Graham talks to a young enthusiast, while yet another photo is taken. ch2016-26  Finally – a few pictures showing it being put together. It starts with boxes placed on a template, with stones on stands to produce the 'mountain. ch2016-27  When the structure is complete we add the plants. Here are some of the trolleys, as they arrive from Scotland. ch2016-28  We plant the alpine areas first, and at that stage the fragile nature of the structure is all too obvious!
ch2016-29  On the second and third days the 'meadow' and wet areas are planted. Here is Monica working her magic on some flower stems that needed encouragement to stand up straight. She worked with Coreen, Graham, Stella, David and Alice – six people for three days. A lot of work – but worth it.