I recently discovered some unedited and mostly un-looked at photos from Chelsea in 2015, and as I won't be at Chelsea this year, I thought the timing fortuitous so am sharing some of those, now edited photos, today. 2015 was the year the BBC and RHS partnered on The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge TV programme with the winner fulfilling their dream to design a garden at Chelsea.
Now wouldn't that be fun. And, no doubt, a lot of hard work. We watched the series avidly - armchair gardening really was the best that year!
In his Chelsea garden the winner, Sean Murray, created a front garden for a couple of keen gardeners nearing retirement. There's an abundance of plants, and practical off street parking too, and I suspect there's another message in there for all of us that have very little greenery in our front gardens.
At the time I remember thinking I didn't think much of the roof of their house - isn't it funny how those things stick with you? I know it's just a facade, but there you go. Looking back there's a lot of stone and slate in this garden as well as more natural and realistic planting, even for keen gardeners, so you've a feeling that they'll actually have time to sit down and enjoy the garden too.
The sunken garden worked well, and is much more adventurous than lots of front gardens, which for many - and me included - is somewhere to park the car and somewhere that leads to the front door. I wonder though if having a prettier front garden would encourage me to spend more time in it, or if the busy main road would still dominate. I think the latter, but I do wish we had more greenery there - maybe one day, if logistics can be worked out and around - ours is a complicated space, used by us and the three flats next door.
Even then - before I re-acknowledged my love of yellow - it was the yellow flowers that drew me in. And lupins too, another favourite, which although a favourite I'm still struggling to grow. I've some seeds in the greenhouse which are resolutely refusing to do their thing (so far)
The sculpture looks great, but even though MOH admired it I think I'd struggle to get him to agree to a "ring of old rusty tins" in our garden space, let alone the catering size tins under the bench seating. And it is a lot of tinned tomatoes to eat isn't it?
While we were there the winner of the TV programme and garden designer, Sean Murray was talking to people admiring his garden. And who could blame him, it was definitely his moment to shine. Shortly after his competition win he quit his job to become a full-time gardener and by all accounts he's still doing that today, having recently designed a community garden for a local mining village, so that's great to know.
As I flicked through the photos it was these slate ones that jumped out at me. I hadn't realised at the time that this "river" of sedums and alpines was the off street parking area - surely it's way too pretty to plonk a car on top of? My car rarely moves off the drive these days so I wonder how they'd cope, but isn't it great to challenge our idea that parking spaces have to be dreary.
And take a closer look. I know it was a Chelsea garden, but the attention to detail is phenomenal. I think I mooted the standing the slate up on its edge approach to MOH at the time in our own garden, and you're right, we didn't do it, nor even consider it. But it's a great look.
What do you think - would a front garden like this work for you?