This morning on Monday musings we are revisiting a post we published last year about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as we feel it is even more relevant. This years Chelsea spectacle began yesterday, but with escalating budgets and intricate designs, how can the average visitor or viewer find anything to ‘take home’…?
(originally published 24th May 2012)
Over the past three days we have looked (very briefly) at some of the highlights for the three shows which come to fruition this week. Each of the three are exceedingly different, so, what is the relevance of these events to the regular visitor, with modest living spaces and usually even more modest outdoor spaces – all funded with terribly restricted pursestrings.
It is easy to steal ideas and inspiration from the Chelsea Fringe and Clerkenwell – they are immediately ‘accessible’ to all of us. Firstly, there are small or no charges for any of the events. The events are very varied, just like us. There is a huge sense of community. It is very cliche to say that there is ‘something for everyone’ but I truly believe the statement. But RHS Chelsea? With a large entrance fee and restricted tickets, massive sponsorship deals and massive budgets can the general public really be inspired?
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a formidable beast with a royal heritage – in short, a Chelsea Gold has become the pinnacle of many a designers and growers medal shelf. The years of training and hard toil are rewarded in a similar way to an Olympic event – it has to be right on the day, or sorry, close but no cigar.
But often when visiting these events, the public view is extremely different to that of the RHS judges – and this is exactly what we can all benefit from. It does not particularly matter to us what the medal or award is – the gardens and nursery stands are there to INSPIRE US as visitors, not critical judges and if you look in the right way, anyone can see something to suit their own spaces and budgets.
So, take your camera and notebook and grab the images which appeal. Forget the scale of the gardens and how much they cost – this has absolutely no relevance to many of us at all – look closely at the details and the ingredients which make them up and steal them for your own. Plant combinations, structure of trees, reclaimed materials, hard landscaping, how water can be used, colour use etc…
By all means take an overall picture of the garden but then get into the detail – catalogue all that you like so you can happily steal it all when you get back home. Nicking the small details is how the RHS Chelsea Flower Show becomes accessible to everyone. If we just concentrate on the overall image, we forget about the small elements, which in reality are the things that we can use.
I know from my own collections of images and sketchbooks from previous Chelsea Flower Shows that I have very few images of the whole garden, or plant stand. There are moss covered rocks. The juxtaposition between structure and foliage. The interplay between formal landscaping and sweeping planting. Great textures. Lots of small, close images.
This type of inspiration gathering does not only (and should not only) have to apply to gardeners – anyone with a creative mind can find inspiration in anything. To quote Sir Paul Smith – ‘you can find inspiration in everything (and if you can’t, look again).
And do not worry if you are not visiting the show – watch on iPlayer and snap shots of details from the coverage or look at the beautiful photos which have been uploaded to the RHS Chelsea website. There are long, overall shots, but a lot of them look at the tiny details…
Plus, the gods are in the detail, so open your eyes wide, focus them close and record it all.
(image via RHS)