Friday, May 23, 2008

The Art of the Garden

Images of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I had a lovely, if rather exhausting, time at the Chelsea Flower Show on Wednesday afternoon and evening - and this post is a quick recap of what I saw.

As you come out of the Underground station at Sloane Square you know you're at 'an event'. They have people on crowd control at the tube station - and then just as you exit the station, there is a line of ticket touts all wanting to buy or sell tickets. We all swept past them because - as RHS members - we were going to THE Flower Show.

And so I was swept up in the RHS route march down to the Royal Hospital grounds. It was very like going to a football match or a big concert - absolutely masses of people who were all proud owners of a 3.30pm entry ticket on a Members' Day. I've been to Chelsea before - and an all day ticket is for the very fit and energetic! Going at 3.30 meant I would have four and half hours which would be quite enough for my feet. As it was I sat down for about 10 minutes!

As you get to the Gates there are stewards barking out orders for you to have tickets OUT and all bags UNZIPPED! Very well organised and very efficient - and I was inside in no time at all.

I'm going to give you a little taste of Chelsea in the photos at the top and bottom of this post. I'm doing them small - but click and they'll expand. The gardens reminded me of how garden designers must compose their scenes in the same way as artists plan their paintings.

I'd just like you all to know that it's taken a little time to sort through 327 photographs! I'm not going to even try and comment on anything other than the botanical art as there is just so much! Well other than to say I lost count of the number of infinity pools and different varieties of alliums (they were everywhere!) and the number of people who had used lilac and lime greens for the main colour theme for their gardens or stands............

Botanical Art

Ann Swan SBA - contemporary botanical art, coloured pencil artist
(in the middle) and friends at her stand, Chelsea Flower Show
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

As you come in there is a run of stands which are for people interested in botanical art. These included Ann Swan - a coloured pencil artist who has won RHS Gold Medals for her botanical art and is one of the UK's leading botanical artists. Ann's work is stunning and she is also a very popular teacher of botanical art. Every time I look at one of her classes it is completely booked up! If you're interested try her website - but you'll need to plan ahead. Ann tells me that she is currently engaged in writing a book about Botanical Art using coloured pencils which will be published next year - and I'll be doing an interview with her later in the year about this.

Bryan Poole RE - contemporary botanical aquatint etchings
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I was also very pleased to meet Bryan Poole, a New Zealand born botanical and natural history artist who is also a member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers (I'm having a very print-oriented week this week!) Bryan makes contemporary botanical aquatint etchings - on his website you can read about and see a little of the etching process that he uses. I'm absolutely intrigued by his technique and am also going to try and get an interview with Bryan for the blog.

Finally, fans of gardening programmes made by the BBC might like to click on the two photos at either end of the row below and see if you can work out who I saw. One of them has a bit of a clue! ;)

Images of RHS Chelsea Flower Show
copyright Katherine Tyrrell


  1. Thanks for sharing your pictures. I have been watching Chelsea on the BBC all week. It must have been a great experience to see all those wonderful plants and gardens. Plus you saw Alan Titchmarsh and Andy Sturgeon. Cool.

  2. Katherine, what is the plant in the top row of pictures, all the way to the right? (Chelsea-149)

    I have got to find some of that...

  3. Teeheehee - it's a carnivorous plant Rose - endless fun for all the family! I'm sorry I don't know which one exactly.

    Try these links

  4. Goodness, my boys would love to sit and watch bugs get eaten! It is a lovely structure to the plants though.

    Thanks for the links, I'll keep poking around...I will have to sketch that's entrancing...which I suppose is rather the point!

  5. I had been waiting for this one! Fabulous photographs, Katherine (I do hope there may be more coming) and of course there are the drawings which will follow to look forward to.

    I think I'd have swooned if I'd seen Alan Titchmarsh and I thought I was immune to celebrity.


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