I adore the Chelsea Flower Show, but this will be first time in many, many years that I’m not going.
It was a tough decision, but I’ve got plenty of other things going on this week, and it’s always a long day on my feet, which I’m not so good at now. Besides, there will be plenty of coverage on the television, so, when I have a spare moment, I will recline on the sofa and lap it all up.
It’s difficult to say what Chelsea’s past highlights have been for me. Being a horse lover, I loved the topiary horse and rider I saw on my very first visit in 1984, and, I think it’s true to say, no show has ever quite lived up to that one. There wasn’t so much television coverage in those days, if any, and I was truly amazed when I first stepped into the marquee. I had never seen anything like it before – wonderful plants and flowers heaped everywhere in the most dazzling displays. On the whole, though, I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and country garden borders of foxgloves and roses tend to excite me the most, so this was understandably one of my favourite displays last year.
I’ve acquired the odd souvenir, too,over the years, including a bookmark made from the old marquee and a Steiff bear called Rose, who was made in honour of the hundredth anniversary in 2013.
And, thinking of those early days of the flower show, I’ve been wondering if any of my ancestors ever exhibited there. They have variously been described as “market gardeners” and “florists”, but, so far, I haven’t found any reference to them at Chelsea. I suspect the answer is a disappointing no, but I can live in hope.
However, although I’m not actually going to the show, I am marking the occasion. Recently I’ve had some fun compiling some of my heroine Julie’s favourite flower arrangements (she’s a minor florist when she’s not solving murders), and they are now in a short ebook, Julie’s World of Flowers. As far as I’m aware, there’s no record of Julie ever going to Chelsea, but, nevertheless, it seemed the right week to publish it!