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Adventures at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Part 2

In my previous post, I shared some of my experiences at the 100th Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show. I have had the privilege to attend three of these events in the past, but this was by far the most historic—so I thought I would tell you a little more about it!

There were many gardens and displays featuring herbs. Here were just a few of my favorite Chelsea Flower Show gardens.

One of the featured Artisan Gardens was the Get Well Soon garden, sponsored by National Botanic Garden of Wales. This garden had a comforting feel and won a Silver-Gilt Flora Medal. According to the website, the “Get Well Soon [garden] illustrates the many ways in which a garden and its plants can improve your health through ancient, traditional, modern and alternative forms of medicine. The design captures the uplifting feeling that visiting a beautiful garden can bring, while demonstrating the health benefits of creating your own garden.” On the days that I’m having a bad day I go into my garden and it immediately lifts my mood.

Inside the Great Pavilion all matter of herbs rose to the occasion and were used in some beautiful displays. Here is the display from Hooksgreen Herbs, located in Stone, Staffordshire. This company also won a Silver-Gilt Flora Medal. In this display you can see fully matured herbs in a natural setting, and it gives the gardener many different design ideas. As I always say, you don’t have to have a large herb garden to be successful. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the big picture. When that happens try smaller vignettes, ("Designing your Garden with Herb Vignettes").

Hooksgreen Herbs was selling herbs at the show, including my favorite—lemon verbena. Too bad I couldn’t take it home in my suitcase!

Another one of my favorite displays came from Sparsholt College in Hampshire. This display, named Teavolution: The Evolution of Infusions, also won the Silver-Gilt Flora Medal and was part of the RHS Environment Exhibit in the Great Pavilion, which focused on reducing the environmental impact and increasing well-being by growing your own teas.

Based on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, the display showed a wide range of plants that can be used to make infusions used during the last century. The only plant in the display that couldn’t be made into an infusion was stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), a very popular sweetener from Paraguay. Some of the characters of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party were portrayed with plant infusions: The Mad Hatter with Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis), the White Rabbit with rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), Alice with lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla), the Queen of Hearts with German chamomile (Matricaria recututa), the Cheshire Cat with silver birch (Betula pendula) and the Dormouse with lavender (Lavandula spp.). It was very chaotic, but in a good way—upbeat and packed with herbal goodness.

My final favorite display (always with herbs in mind!) was from Downderry Nursery in Kent, which won a Gold Medal for its wonderful lavender display. Downderry is home to the “world’s only Scientific National Plant Collection of Lavender.” They grow more than 350 species and cultivars of lavender.

The two hardiest lavenders in my herb garden are ‘Hidcote’, which features dark purple flowers, and ‘Munstead’, which shows off a paler lavender flower. I would also add that any Lavandula angustifolia is edible. The one flower that is not a L. angustifolia but would still consider edible would be L. x intermedia ‘Provence’. When you are using lavender for culinary purposes more is not better. You could end up with a mouth full of soap.

All in all the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show was full of beautiful herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruits, trees and shrubs of all types, as well as lots of wonderful information and products for all gardeners.

Nancy Heraud I will also have more posts about the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show on my blog, Lemon Verbena Lady’s Herb Garden. You are always welcome, so come over for a visit. 

As always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please leave me a comment or send me an email at and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” Talk to you soon.