Travels with Dick and Karen

London, Part 6

Chelsea Physic Garden and
Chelsea Flower Show

This page covers two days of our trip. The first to the Chelsea Physic Garden was early in the month, the second to the Chelsea Garden Show was near the end. Both involved a walk due south to just shy of the banks of the Thames.

We followed our map and someone's directions and came to a wall. We then chose the wrong direction and ended up walking 3/4ths of the way around the block before we finally found the doorway that gave entry to this old walled garden. london

A "Physic Garden" is one containing medicinal plants.

Part of the garden has plants grouped by medicinal use, part by who and/or where they were collected


Before walking ourselves ragged, we paused for lunch on the grounds.
Karen was spoiled by having the best scone with clotted cream and jam of the entire trip.

We were asked if we wanted to join the free tour but decided to just wander around and marvel at things on our own. london
Lots of tree ferns for Karen london

Even the cut down stump of one



An unlabled geometric plant. Karen wouldn't be surprised if it is a thistle or if it is some weird family she's never heard of.
Given the setting, it is not a weed (at least here).

Huge mistletoes on ancient roses (probably intentionally infected).

A small gathering of canivorous plants london
and succulents london
interesting orchids in the greenhouses london
Flowering Bird of Paradise london
An informative kiosk in the garden. Interactive in a low tech sort of way: lots of drawers and cupboards to open london
Carl Linnæus, developer of "binomial nomenclature", as honored by his native Swedish currency.  london
All public gardens seem to have the same goals (top sign) and problems (lower)... london

On our way home from the Physic Garden, we got a peek at the preparations for the Chelsea Garden Show which would open in three weeks. They spend a month setting it up.

The next slide is three weeks later....

The day of our Flower Show tickets dawned (we had reserved tickets back in March). We walk back through the neighborhood which now has flower displays in nearly every shop london
... or on them.  london
Duke of York Square shared decorations between the flower show and colorful mouths associated with a Rolling Stones exhibit at the adjacent Saatchi Gallery.  london

The entry to the Garden Show is beside the Royal Chelsea Hospital, a home for retired veterans, on whose grounds it is presented each year. A decade ago this was said to be the world's largest garden show. They now merely claim most prestigious.


It certainly was large and crowded.

The blue squares are vendors' booths: artisans, antiques, garden shoes and tools. The large white rectangle is a massive temporary pavillion, full of nurseries', garden clubs' and other floral displays. The areas surrounding the pavillion, plus the green rectangles are the display gardens.

Karen was very impressed that they had plumbed in about 30 flush toilets in each temporary women's room. They weren't going to subject folks who paid this much for tickets to stinky portable outhouses!

The Show runs for a week... the Queen attends on Monday, Royal Horticultural Society members exclusively Tuesday & Wednesday, and then the public may come on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Over 150,000 people attend (limited due to space in the gardens) so tickets are generally only available by advance booking.


This was one of the more elegant garden displays

There are numerous corporate-sponsored gardens, frequently created and executed by internationally-famous designers.


The theme of this one was mathematics


The garden sponsored by Harrod's had an animated gardener in an old shed london

... every 15 minutes Harrod's trees twirled around and the window boxes went up and down

Quite appropriately, its full title was "The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden".


... which led to crowds of people waiting for the next performance


There were artful plantings in every nook and cranny

Going in to a small building to view the flower arrangements got out of the crowds for a moment london
This was the winner in one category london
And this a runner-up london
Stepping outdoors again, we stopped at some artists' booths. Karen was very impressed with both the quality and the variety. london
This is the UK ... these shapes are slate from an Edinburgh artist.  london
David Meredith's bronze sculptures.  london
James Doran Webb's fantastic driftwood creations  london
The things you can do (or buy) with "easigrass" artificial grass...  london
Blue Forest Treehouses.... shown small ...  london
... but built large  london
"Over-sized fruit sculptures" from Hamburg, Germany.  london

Carrie Anne Funnell had a large booth and seemed to me to be the best glass artist there (there weren't many). I hope she did well.


Quoting the Show's catalog: "The Imperial Garden - Revive explores the complex relationships between Russia, Ukraine and the UK."
Featuring metal lace sculptures and the statue by Ukrainian Victoria Chichinadze, sponsored by, installed by a UK contrator.
After the Chelsea Show, it moved on to the Moscow Flower Show.

This one was also fun to see, but carried a serious message. It's the World Vision Garden, the curves symbolizing the ups and downs of life, with "growing crescendos of new hope".

Behind it stands the "Grand Pavillion"...

We enter the "Grand Pavillion"... This is one small corner of it ... london
The Pavillion was tall enough to go over the permanent obelisk. The sculptured "trees" were part of the Show's installation. As were the tree ferns. london
It wouldn't be a British exhibition without something for the "train spotters"... inside the pavillion (obelisk getting a bit lost in the distance). london
Most of the Pavillion space was a grid of individual presentations by nurseries, associations and gardens ... about 250 in all. london
Kirstenbosch, the gardens we visited in South Africa, had a display of proteas and other South African wildflowers. london
As did Barbados (which we will now more strongly consider visiting because of the nice people manning the booth). london

The National Chrysanthemum Society ...


Getting them all to bloom on schedule takes a really green thumb (and lots of knowledge and a bit of luck) london
Alliums and Amaryllis from W.S.Warmenhoven in the Netherlands  london
A tiny section of the National Rhodedendron Society's 100th Anniversary display... this bit honoring the exploratory and collecting efforts of George Forrest in both the Himalayas and Yunnan. london
Did you know that most commercially-supplied long stem roses now come from Kenya? london
Carnivorous plants trying to keep the Pavillion clear of insects...  london
Once more out of the pavillion, we enter the avenue of vendors: tote bags(1), garden shoes(2), tools(3) and fine art(4) all jumbled together
(1) bought some
(2) tried some on
(3) played with
(4) appreciated
One of my favorite pieces (by artist Mark Stoddart) london
Alison Holt's embroidery was amazing. london
People were sitting on every possible place. london
Eventually we got tired of the crowds and wandered out. london
And were amused by the line of pedicabs waiting at the exit. london

Part 7: More Museum

1: Local area 2: Thames river trip 3: To the Tower 4: Canal to Soho 5: Further afield by rail: Reading, Kew
6: Chelsea Gardens
7: More Museum To Iceland  

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all text and images copyright Karen and Dick Seymour 2016,
and may not be reproduced without written permission

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