A casual gardener at best, I would like to take in the Chelsea Flower Show, but casually. I tend to be a generalist. I didn’t think too much about my big picture mentality until I went to Peru with some serious birders. They were carefully noting sub-species; I was gushing, “Oh look! There’s a flock of brown birds!”
The specific species didn’t really do anything for me. But the flock, the shifting formation of the flock against the sky, that was something worth noting.
The same would be true of a flower show. I want to see it, but as a generalist. The flowers themselves wouldn’t hold my attention, but certainly the play of colors and how the designers realized their themes would capture my attention as would the people attending. Who might these impassioned people be?
If you had hoped to take in the Chelsea Flower Show (May 24 through 28), you are a day late and a dollar short. Actually several dollars short. General admission tickets that went for 19 and 17 pounds are now being sold by touts for £250 pounds or $406 dollars. It is a steep price for letting the dates get away from you. And as the Royal Horticultural Society website warns, if you buy from someone hawking tickets, do you know that you are buying a genuine ticket?
What I recommend is the RHS Hampton Court Show which runs July 5-10. I will have returned to the States by that time, but I have attended the Hampton Court Show in the past, and it is not to be missed. Although I can’t compare it to the Chelsea show, I would say that the history and the setting are superior.
Hampton Court was built by Cardinal Wolsey; however, when he fell out with Henry VIII for failing to secure Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Wolsey tried to win back the king,s favor by gifting Hampton Court to Henry. The Palace is wonderful in itself, but add the flower show and you’ve got a whole lot more.
The Hampton Court Flower Show is between the palace grounds and the River Thames, and it straddles the canal that runs between the river and the palace. General admission tickets are still available and at £29 for 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and £18.50 for a 3:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Me? I’ll make do with London’s parks which in addition to their beautiful formal gardens, have great swaths of knee-high grass bending with the breeze. And now the grass-gone-wild is dabbed with buttercups. Lovely.