Adventures at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Part 1

| 7/2/2013 4:59:00 PM

I have been lucky enough to attend three Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Shows over the years, but this one—the 100th anniversary—was obviously the most historic. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a one-of-a-kind event, and herbs were a big part of this year’s exhibits. When the Herbal Husband and I attended our first show in 1996, we were amazed at the exhibitors showing off their passion for plants in all kinds of displays. The Chelsea Flower Show 2013 was a very traditional show in the best sense.

My herbal companion and I had two full days in Chelsea, so we didn’t have to rush our visit. Our first task? To find the herb queen, Jekka McVicar, an English organic gardening expert and author, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Jekka McVicar
Jekka McVicar and the Lemon Verbena Lady
Photo by Nancy Heraud

Jekka is known for her bountiful displays of herbs at the Chelsea show. The Herbal Husband and I first saw Jekka’s Herb Farm exhibit at the 1996 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which won her a gold medal. Over her career of participating at the Chelsea shows, she has won more than 60 awards. She now participates with a stand, but still has the most wonderful displays of herbs. Oh, and I forgot to mention, she was one of the moderators of the RHS Great Pavilion Judging this year. She was a very busy lady, so it was a brief visit.

Chelsea Flower Show Display
A vibrant display of herbs at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Photo by Nancy Heraud

I was lucky enough to visit Jekka’s Herb Farm in 2010 and wrote a blog post about my visit—Meet Jekka McVicar: Queen of the Herbs. I even wrote a second blog post about Jekka—Herbal Travels: Spending the Day with Jekka McVicar. My third blog post about Jekka was written when she spoke for the Herb Society of America in Pittsburgh and I had the pleasure of taking her to the Western Pennsylvania Unit’s herb garden, to my herb garden and to lunch—The Herb Channeler’s Adventures with Jekka McVicar.

Our first day at the Chelsea show was reserved for members of the Royal Horticultural Society. I most enjoyed the vendors who were dressed in period costumes. Hannah McVicar, Jekka’s daughter who illustrated Jekka’s Herb Cookbook, wore a beautiful Edwardian outfit from 1913.

Hannah McVicar
Hannah McVicar dresses in a beautiful 1913 Edwardian outfit
for the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Photo by Jekka McVicar/used with permission

At this year's Chelsea show Jekka sold her books, her seeds, Hannah’s original artwork, and a new collection of herbal teas—Jekka's Herb Teas—in partnership with Canton Tea Co. Herbal teas included peppermint, chamomile, hibiscus, "Good Night" tea, lemongrass and, of course—my favorite—lemon verbena, which Jekka describes as a good after-dinner digestive. Read more about Jekka’s adventures at her herb farm on her blog, Jekka’s Herb Farm.

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