Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

We began our last day of this glorious tour visiting two epic stops that will necessitate me dividing this days tour into two posts. The first half was at the Chelsea Physic Garden and later that day, the Chelsea Flower Show, which you can imagine is a monster post on its own. Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673, as the Apothecaries’ Garden, with the purpose of training apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants. The location was chosen due to its proximity to the River Thames. This allowed the Apothecaries to moor their barge, collect plants in the surrounding areas and take advantage of the river’s warm air currents, which contribute to the Garden’s unique microclimate. River access also allowed plants arriving from around the World to be introduced to the British Isles via the Garden. Its international reputation was established early on as a result of the global seed exchange scheme, known as Index Seminum, which it initiated in the 1700’s and continues to this day.
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
You can imagine our groups collective “Ooohs and aaaaaahs” when we came upon this sign outside the garden. We were all giddy with excitement on our last and most glorious day of the tour.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Our intrepid tour guide Carolyn Mullet, who is an amazing designer in her own right made sure we all felt truly spoiled on this trip and today was no exception!
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Though we were all bundled up in May, it was classic London gray weather. Nothing was going to stop us from enjoying this amazing day. We had a fabulous lunch in the Physic Garden before heading out either for formal tours or independent exploration of this historic location.
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I’m SUCH a foodie, I just had to show you our dessert! decadent chocolate cake with creme fraiche! A most excellent send off to the extravaganza that lay ahead of us. 🙂
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This artistic garden is all about health and medicinals. I took particular note of the artistry in how they displayed and used all manner of plants here. I love the twig bundles arranged on this path that will feature a bounty of ‘Lord Nelson’ sweet peas.
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
There were an enormous number of details to take in during this short time we had to explore in this extraordinary city garden.
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
One of my favorite spots in this garden demonstrated the context of where we were standing so beautifully; right smack in a busy and dense neighborhood in London only blocks from the River Thames with both row houses and high rises all around us. And yet here we are in a garden that is hundreds of years old and still going strong.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
Take note of this garden art and the medical symbology here, you will see it again in an amazing garden at the show!

Whatever the snake and stick mean, the rod should not be confused with another snake & stick combo: the caduceus, featuring two snakes, a stick and wings, that’s often used as a symbol of medicine in the U.S. The staff is said to have been that of Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods.

Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The ouroboros is a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life.

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I was beyond shocked to see this incredible Echium not just existing, but blooming in May in cool, damp London! When they said micro-climate they weren’t kidding!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Ther must have been some significance to this bust I’m sure, but the placement was unique, down low in the geranium!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Intimate, shady paths wound through parts of this garden that featured shade plants and a fernery right behind me.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

“Rooms” in the garden were intended to feature groups of plants for varied uses in medicine, health, and wellness.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Handsomely handcrafted waddle fences of different heights, styles, and materials confined various groupings of interests and plantings within the garden for study.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
In a garden that has a very specific focus and intent, design with floral focus in mind was mostly understated. But, then you look at and appreciate them, even more, when you see them stand up and say “Take my picture!”

Our time was VERY limited, so we had to scoot through this garden in time enough to go stand in line for our check-in time at the Chelsea Flower Show. SQUEEEEEEE!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

We walked just a few short blocks from the Chelsea Physic Garden to our staging spot for the Chelsea Flower Show, but what a view on our walk along the river. The photo makes it look SO peaceful when in fact it was nutty bananas with traffic and humans.

Something THIS show does that is unusual is that when you get your tickets to the show, you are assigned an entry time. So, you get in the queue and wait your turn for entry. Our time was later in the day as the light was fading and this photographer was panicking. 🙂

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
But, as you can now see, we made it in! Now you just have to stay tuned for the final chapter that covers this incredible one of a kind show!!!

Nancy Claire Guth “Electro Cute” at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

February 2013 Nancy Claire Guth NWFGS Display

Some designers are truly gifted at bringing creative ideas to life. Other designers are good at running a business and creating a loyal following of clients. Its uncommon in my experience to find both in one person. But, now I have found both in my new friend and colleague Nancy Claire Guth of Artistic Garden Concepts.

This year Nancy has created a Small Space garden featured on the sky-bridge at the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  Her inspiration for this design began by upcycling a whole bunch of electric themed parts and other found objects, which is Nancy’s signature design secret. Clients will frequently ask for one of a kind, funky treasures to be featured in her design and she is more than happy to accommodate those requests. I am in awe of anyone who can take an old radiator heater and think to create a bench seat!! 🙂

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In years past she has been a creator of a number of the large scale award winning gardens like this amazing Rain Garden at the 2011 NWFGS. Here is a cute video of Nancy Claire Guth being interviewed by Marianne Binetti at the show describing her amazing garden concept.

Join us at the show this year and see all of the amazing ideas that Nancy has included in her design for this year up close and personal. There are details on top of details that are SO crafty and creative. It will make you want to go find some treasure of your own to upcycle! Follow Nancy Claire Guth’s Artistic Garden Concepts page on Facebook too!

For more ideas, photos and general ogling of ALL of the details at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, follow me on Facebook at The Personal Garden Coach. I will be covering the WHOLE show!

Snippets of Foliage and Winter Garden Art

Making good use of January indoor time is important to me as a gardener. I like the creative momentum that builds up after the fall garden clean up is over, the holiday distractions are finished and I’m really ready to get going on something nature oriented. Ogling the seed catalogs and various juicy pictorial based websites are the creative outlets I rely when digging or designing are not a palatable option. But, it’s still not actively DOING something, or CREATING and THAT is what energizes me.

So, I went out into the garden and took little snippets and bits of plants that were looking lovely and decided to have fun with them. I played Portrait Studio! I did this once a few years back when I entered the Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest and learned an invaluable little photo trick from David Perry, one of my photography idols.

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I had loads of fun creating these foliage based shots (no blooms here just yet). I hope YOU enjoy them too! 🙂

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This was a sampling of one style of the artwork I created over the weekend, I’m saving the rest for later. Now, to figure out what  else is going to keep me busy for a while…. Oh ya, I have a book coming out soon!!! 🙂

Garden Designers Roundtable – Finer Points of Details in the Garden

As the sign of the Virgo, my detail-oriented nature is ruled by the mind. Virgos are always analyzing everything, with a penchant for working with very precise and detailed designs on a more focused scale than many signs. I notice everything- when it comes to the garden. In that way, I’m the classic definition of a Virgo, the love of fine points, minutiae, particulars, specifics and technicalities.

I think that’s one reason why I love photographing the garden so much. To me it’s really all about the details. It allows another type of focus that you don’t get when you’re purely experiencing the garden with touch, smell, taste and sounds.

Today, I’ve rounded up a group of fabulous recent pictures that help you understand how I see the details at this late summer/early autumn season. ENJOY!

The angle of the evening light coming through this Hydrangea Paniculata ‘Quickfire’ is exquisite.

A singular Coreopsis ‘Big Bang Solar Cluster’ nestled in this ‘Cirrus’ Artemisia with a bit of ‘Rainbow’ Leucothoe is magical.

Blink and you would miss them!

Tree jewelry? Now THAT’S detailed!!

Taking advantage of the reflection!

The almost clockwise swirrel of the petals on this Echinacea are mesmerizing!

Such architecture in a seed head!

Magnificent view, and magnificent rose right under my nose!

Rhythm in the grasses……

An unexpected giggle that catches you by surprise is always a treat.

This container design shows it’s jaunty nature with it’s offset beret of Acorus grass planted askew and Mexican Feather Grass below that mimics the fun.
Also notice how the Poppy seed pods imitate the bumps on the container at the same level too.

A true detail after my own heart. I’m dying to make one of these someday.

Not only a monochromatic color combination, one of my favorite things, but a textural contrast too- BONUS!

This picture represents the realization that this color combination illustrates ALL of the favorite colors of my living room decor. Now THAT is detailed. 🙂

Be sure to visit the other Lords and Ladies of the Garden Designers Roundtable for September to see how they interpret the details. 🙂

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Steel, Rock and Sedum Focal Point

This little vignette at a client’s home pleased me to no end on this lovely spring day and I just wanted to share this with you. I thought it illustrated a couple of cool things.

1) My client bought this steel pot because she simply fell in love with it and HAD to have it. I can totally understand this, I would too!
It’s common in my line of work that I’m the one that has to figure out where and how to fit this new thing of passion into a particular garden design. My homework assignment to the client was to find a great rock to pair with the container and help balance the scene. Since the homeowner’s son is very helpful in the garden he took the rock task on. And THIS is the fantastic rock that he chose. So much subtlety, elegance and geometry. It perfectly fit my vision for the spot! 

2) One of the great things about Personal Garden Coaching that I LOVE is that I get to encourage homeowners to do what they already wanted to do by their own natural instincts….take down a tree, move a shrub, throw away bad plants.  But the best times are when I give the client permission to have fun with it, be creative, and they do! I think nature is so much more a part of us than we give her a chance to be and when we let ourselves be open to it, such amazing thing can happen. When gardener’s open up to being creative and have fun with it, they free up themselves to not need so much permission to try new things in other areas of life. 

This rock might not look that exciting, but to me, it means SO much more than just a piece in the garden.

String Gardens and Terrariums Win Crowds at Philly Flower Show

This jaded, cynical designer has a short attention span for the same old same old. I am frequently yearning to see something new and inspirational in the world of gardening. So, one of the things I look for when I spend time at a large garden show like the Philadelphia Flower Show is a creative new discovery. I was fortunate to have stumbled on more than one AND HOW, at this show!

The “String Garden” or “Kokedama” was one of the hottest  trends that I saw at the show. To be accurate, anything you could hang with a plant and a string was HOT!

One fantastic vendor, City Planter is a very popular urban garden store in Philadelphia. They had a funky booth selling this latest whimsical trend among many others that made them a hot destination at this impressive 10 acre sized show.

The City Planter shop featured these stylish string gardens for customers to see right out at eye level. Essentially, these are a moss ball with a simple single plant featured on top and wrapped to hold together with fishing line or wire then simply suspended with a strand of string. I’ve seen them hung from jute twine, wire or a waxed twine as well.

Plants options in the string gardens were varied to accommodate your light and moisture requirements, from succulents and herbs to ferns and polka-dot plants. If you would like to see a demonstration of how these are made, this post has some great directions.

String Gardens were originally brought to us by Dutch artist Fedor Van der Valk. You can read more about the artist and see some fantastic photos of his creative suspended gardens in 2 articles from Garden Design Magazine written by Claire Lui. The first article posted in January of this year and then highlights posted again here in March 2012.

I was impressed at how varied the options were in the plants that they were offering in the string gardens. String Gardens are a fun and creative option for a plant craft to try that won’t cost a fortune. Imagine the possibilities of plants that you could try!

This popular show shop also offered some of the most sophisticated little glass terrariums I’ve ever seen. A rectangular glass box with an opening at the top for planting and a tiny hole in back to hang from a nail. They had added some decorative rock in showy layers, some ornamental moss and a few air plants, voila! Any beginning gardener could easily keep this alive and in style too.

Also among the fashionable offerings from City Planter were the extremely popular Moss Rocks by David Spain, as seen on Martha Stewart recently. Irregularly shaped, small ceramic rock shapes, glazed in trendy colors, sport a little tuffet of moss on top like a miniature crew cut. These charming, colorful living sculptures are an adorable little bit of Zen for your desk, counter top and coffee table.

Chive.com offered a beautiful and sophisticated booth featuring simple design that shows off the beauty of the flower. Hanging vases on a string were a very popular item as well as the ceramic 60’s style throwback hanging vases.

Cloches were also everywhere at the show, next to Terrariums these were one of the trends at the show that would draw the most passionate response that I would over hear from attendees. Cloches are easy to create and change a look on a table top in moments on a whim.

This lovely little cloche display was on only a small part of the charming and popular shop at the Philly Flower Show set up by Jerry Fritz and his team from Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville, Pennsylvania.

Possibly one of my favorite finds at the whole Philly Flower Show however was the booth from Twig Terrariums. They not only had the String Gardens but the Terrariums and Miniatures were literally the ONLY ones in the whole market/vendor portion of the show and they were simply WOW!

Each little world was depicting actions and characters not only in a terrarium environment, but in a completely new, contemporary light. I have truly never seen anything like it. It was enchanting to say the least. I’m not sure the pictures do it justice. Yes, I LOVED them THAT much. 🙂 If you want to read a great book about Terrariums, this one is beautiful!

Small wonders were abundant at this ginormous show in the unusually warm spring of 2012. Even this old designer found out that there really ARE new things out there that still make this gardener’s heart flutter. 🙂