It’s such a perfect day! Having arrived in some splendour aboard the Northern Belle, the RHS flower show at Chelsea is more than a fitting destination, but how to see it all?! Here are a few of Tea with Mary Kate’s favourite things:
Favourite Stand in the Great Pavilion – Sweet Tea Cafe
I confess to never having heard of Heucheras, but I just fell in love with them, and absolutely adored this stand. I’m reliably informed by Jooles, a self confessed heucheraholic, that the inspiration for the Sweet tea cafe theme came from the names of the varieties – and with names like creme brulee, vanilla spice, strawberry swirl, key lime pie cappuccino, chocolate ruffles, tiramisu, it’s easy to understand why! Of course how could Tea with Mary Kate resist the wonderful green shed and amazing purple tea cups!
These pretty plants are great for shade, and with such diversity of form. Rather worryingly, I am beginning to understand the obsession – Geisha’s fan and blackberry jam just two more gorgeous names for equally gorgeous plants.
The first sight that greeted me at the RHS flower show in Cardiff was an amazing Red dragon, aptly surrounded by the turrets of Cardiff Castle, and I was delighted to find Dragonswood Forge, at Chelsea too. These amazing dragons are designed and created by the blacksmith Neil Lossock. You can see his screens with fern patterns seared through them just behind the dragon, really very clever too. Neil has also made an amazing mechanical water fountain, which as the tuberous flower fill and tip their water, makes a magical bell like sound against the mushroom shaped bells below – just wonderfully creative!
Favorite Practical Gardening Item
Nutscene, gorgeous, practical twine, manufactured in Angus, Scotland. In business since 1922, it has a rather cleaver patented lock tie spool so you never have to get into a knot with garden twine again – and the lovely bit – they are in gorgeous colours – lilac is a personal favourite.
After having read all about the businesss in Country Living magazine, it was an absolute pleasure to meet its inspiring and enthusiastic managing director Shona Young, who welcomed me into their stall. There was a lovely British flag made out of the round ends of twine. Sadly readers, I neglected to take a photograph, as literally, I stood in front of the stand unable to move, bedazzled by the array of beautiful and practical products. Shona assures me they’ll have the Saltaire when they are back in Scotland! Quite frankly, I was like a child in a sweet shop, I barely knew what to choose, but I plumed for the Tins of twine, with its recyclable authentic vintage label redrawn from the Nutscene archives, just perfect!
Favourite Leaf Tea
Tregothnan – Beautiful tins of leaf tea, grown at the Cornish estate – and who could resist the wonderful giant red teapot!
Favourite Willow Sculpture
Tom Hares “Tree of Knowledge” skillfully crafted from greenwood willow, is fabulous! The personal pledges to support biodiversity (ensuring that we keep both common and rare species of everything, not only plants!) hug on copper leaves were poignant and very thought provoking, the whole idea really for RHS support for UNs international year of biodiverity.
Favourite Ethical Business
Zimbolic – Jonathan is so passionate about what he does, it is truly humbling. Designs are crafted from recycled oil drums, giving stable employment in Zimbabwe, while creating these beautiful garden ornaments. I adored these wonderful hogs on the hill, looking quite at home at Chelsea.
Favourite Cottage plant
Blackmore & Langdon’s gorgeous majestic Delphiniums
Favourite Inspiring Idea
Garden organic Heritage seed Library the UKs leading organic growing charity, committed to conserving varieties of vegetables that would otherwise have disappeared – I loved the red flowered broad bean, and my one pot pledge is to grow my courgette organically (Ok, so I already grow everything organically, even though last years cauliflower crop was eaten by caterpillars, it means lots of beautiful butterflies and healthy birds!)
Just like the Chelsea flower Show. If you have never been, promise yourself a visit, it’s an inspiring day out, full of idea’s for your own gardens, absolutely gorgeous plants, all in the grounds of Chelsea hospital, London.