Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA
For anyone unfamiliar with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it’s one of the highlights of the British Summer calendar – a spectacular event where fashion meets florists and high conceptual art meets allotment excellence. Rub shoulders with visitors and exhibitors from royalty to our eccentric best, but most of all, take pleasure in what is, by far, the biggest, most dramatic ode to the British obsession with gardens and plants that you can imagine.
A sheer delight for the senses: colour, texture, form, fragrance and storytelling – whether the angle of a garden is human art and design or nature’s abundant ability to surprise, the Show is a gift for inspiration and relaxation.
If you can’t get down to the show in person, take a look at the BBC’s coverage this year, because besides the jaw-dropping flowers getting the spotlight, there’s nothing more relaxing than the cool serenity of gardeners’ chatter after a sweltering day in the office.
Here’s some of the highlight’s from Monday’s Press Day:
1. It’s the Little Things…
I noticed this year that there seems to be a real focus on very delicate, very fragile individual plants – from the Poet’s Garden, to the orchid stands, there’s a definite theme going on, and it’s touchingly small!
Bleeding Heart flowers.
There is something painfully sweet about these little things dangling in mid-air. It’s hard to find a photograph that captures their fragility and personality, but their sculptural limbs and jewel-like flowers are the sort of natural decoration that dreams are made of! What’s even more exciting is that they come in so many varieties and colours – even a dramatic and velvety black!
Wellbeing tip: I you ever feel jaded, or like you’ve seen it all, there will always be something out there to let you know you haven’t even started.
1. Japanese gardens
Always popular, with good reason, because the form demands all the best considerations – the textures of mossy rocks, the sound of moving water, the layers of shapely foliage, and of course, the mindfulness of every element.
Wellbeing Tip: This little treasure proves size doesn’t matter: it’s really what you do with it. I think that’s a pretty great metaphor for life…
(And of course, that’s a writing room to end all writing rooms…)
3. The senses gardens
Every garden appeals to the senses really, but by separating the planting of these gardens into texture, scent, listening and taste, you get to know which plants are best for each – which is nice when there is such an overwhelming palette of potential botanical best friends out there!
More than that, to concentrate on one sense at a time is a marvellous meditation practice. The idea of having a little space outdoors for just that practice – even if it’s a small fragrant herb, or a little rustling grass – it’s a reminder you don’t need an altar or a building or a gym to form a meaningful personal practice.
I’ve seen plants this year that I’ve never seen before – amazing forms and colours I’d never be able to dream up in my wildest imagination, and the effect is one of breathless delight. Joyful amazement.
Some of the gardens fill you with peace. Some make you curious. And some of the art contains a brimming energy that transforms material into life.
Driftwood sculptures of animals by James Doran Webb Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty
Wellbeing Tip: Imagination is sometimes all it takes to transform the world you find yourself in. Never stop trying to see things differently rather than wishing yourself constantly somewhere else.
Enjoy Chelsea Flower Show this year. And never stop looking for the beauty.