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Chelsea Update April 7th

Chelsea Update 7th April

Its just 44 days until the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show opens it doors to the world’s press. The pressure is building daily!

We are the sole, or main plant supplier for 6 show gardens this year. Our clients include, Alistair Bayford, Chris Beardshaw, Jo Thompson, Joe Perkins, Jonathan Snow, and Tom Hoblyn, and a wild range of gardens from Chilean rainforest to south eastern Mediterranean. It’s a massive year for the nursery and the team.

This week has been a strange one weatherwise. Last weekend and Monday, it was beautiful and felt like summer. The middle of the week has been terribly cold with a biting wind, and now today it appears to be warming up for the weekend. The plants don’t know where they are and the team are bringing both shorts and balaclavas to wear for work! We moved many plants outside on Monday because they were growing too fast in the tunnels, only for them to spend the rest of the week shivering and looking sorry for themselves. However it’s settling down for a few days now, and awesome Nursery Manager Matt and his team are well into plant husbandry detail, giving many plants a final shaping trim and a last space, to allow them to run to flower as naturally as possible.

One of the perennially popular plants for most Chelsea gardens are the geraniums. We are growing more than 2000 of them for this year’s show. They naturally flower around May time, and with a bit of Chelsea magic, the earliest flowering ones can be held back, and the later flowering ones can be coaxed into early flowering.

Particularly popular is G. phaeum album (pictured)  G. phaeum Lily Lovell (pictured), and G.phaeum Samabor. These guys perform perfectly for Chelsea if grown as naturally as possibly, and designers love their dainty blooms and soft foliage. Needing a blast in a tunnel to coax flowering are G.Rozanne, and G. Mrs Kendal Clarke , which are invaluable for their sky blue flowers, and give more of a summer feel to a Chelsea garden, so well worth the extra effort needed by us to get them to flower.


The earliest one for us is the Mayflower Geranium Sylvaticum (pictured) Matt needs to watch this one carefully, it sits below ground cunningly waiting for his back to be turned and then thrusts up in to leaf and flower bud almost overnight, at which point he moves them outside to the shade where they sit more calmly and hopefully open bang on cue for the opening for the show.

At the Diva end of the scale is Geranium maderense. A brilliant example of botanical structural engineering, it turns its old leaf stalks into guy ropes to support its huge flowering stem which can be 1.2m tall. Embarrassingly, just at the moment, our plants are showing no signs of flower, despite being huge and spectacular. They have been moved to a warmer house this week and given a good talking to! They had better produce a flower spike soon, or a certain famous designer will not be at all happy! 

Watch this space for next week’s update.

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