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Cornish memories - a Chelsea Show Garden - Part 2

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Tom Hoblyn Tom Hoblyn | 07:00 UK time, Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tom Hoblyn, Trebah Gardens Cornwall

Tom Hoblyn looks out to the stunning Trebah Gardens, Cornwall (photo: Mischa Haller)

Now I'm not going to use this whole blog to moan about the blasted weather: a couple of weeks ago I went down to Cornwall with a wonderful BBC film crew to cover our Chelsea story. We met at Trebah gardens to film the planty bit of the show garden. The sun was out and the gardens empty - perfect. The rhodos were in full bloom, tree ferns fronding like mad things, even the Gunnera was unfurling its massive leaves. Alarm bells! Rhodos in full bloom? I'm using rhodos en masse, if they're flowering in Cornwall, surely mine will be in flower soon? Didn't have much time to ponder as the BBC crew were on a tight schedule and after some wanging on about plants for a while we went to the beach to film rock pools where the sun had now disappeared. Amusingly, the tide started to close in around us and there was much panic as we had to get all the camera equipment to safety. These guys filmed Coast, surely this is a common occurrence?

Our final session was on Bodmin moor whereby the moor did not disappoint: yes, horizontal rain and thick mist - you couldn't even see Brown Willy tor. We kept having to stop for a quick mop down as HD TV picks up on water droplets on ones face. Mind you, a misty moor is kind of de rigeur and would've looked odd in full sun. All in all, a good day.

Rhododendron yakushianum

Rhododendron yakushianum (photo: Mischa Haller)

As I drove back up to Suffolk, thoughts of the rhodos in bloom came back. Yes we have had a very mild spring and it was far too hot for this time of year.

The next day I did my nursery rounds to check up on my plants: rhodos are at swollen bud stage with one of my Cunningham's Blush beginning to bloom. Deepdale Trees owner, Matthias assured me that the shock of re-potting and transportation to the UK will retard flowering sufficiently - phew. In fact, the same with all my shrubs, Cornus controversa, kousa, etc. Except for Viburnum plicatum, that was in full bloom, so I need to start thinking about a substitute. Not overly bothered as Viburnum is a bit overused at Chelsea and it did feel a bit of a kop out to use them.

My visit to Howard nurseries, grower of my perennials, wasn't so good. A lot of my first-time-seen-at-Chelsea plants were in full flower. Even though in a shade tunnel, my Disporum cantoniense was blooming furiously. Fortunately David Howard has been doing this for 30+ years and was not perturbed; Disporum has fantastic berries and he is going to push them on passed flowering. As for the rest, pray for cooler weather.

Mid-nursery rounds I went to do my Chelsea BBC red button thingy where you sit in the gardens at RHS Wisley and pretend to be sitting in your Chelsea garden for the camera. All around me were plants I was using for the show garden - but in full bloom. As though taunting me: Polygonatum x hybridum, Uvularia grandiflora. But one must have faith in one's nurseryman, I keep telling myself.

Then today, after four weeks of 20+ degree weather and religiously checking the metoffice website every few minutes, the weather breaks; it is six degrees cooler and BBC Breakfast are forecasting rain for the Royal Wedding this Friday.  Sorry Kate, but unlike the rest of population, I'll be praying for rain this week....but, look at me, I said I wouldn't moan about the weather for an entire blog.

Tom Hoblyn's debut at Chelsea in 2008 resulted in a gold medal, followed by a Silver medal in 2009 and silver Gilt in 2010. Follow the ups and downs of the creation of his most ambitious Chelsea Show Garden to date on this blog in the coming weeks.

You can also follow Tom on Twitter.



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