Saturday 26 May
On the final day, there's a note of sadness in the air as the end of the show was marked by the traditional plant sell-off.
People's Award for best show garden
A tribute to the historic garden at Hidcote designed by Chris Beardshaw has won the BBC RHS People’s Award for Best Show Garden.
The decision made up for a disappointing Silver-Gilt medal awarded to the garden by RHS judges.
The award was presented in front of a crowd of visitors to the show this afternoon. Alan Titchmarsh, presenting the award, said Chris’s garden had “thrilled” him, and also congratulated the three other finalists, Andy Sturgeon, Kate Frey and Diarmuid Gavin.
“We try to make gardens that people will respond to,“ said Chris Beardshaw as he accepted the award. “This just reassures us that we’re going in the right direction.“
The award is for the garden voted best in show by the general public during Chelsea week. Chris won by a huge margin for his popular recreation of the historic garden at Hidcote Manor, in Gloucestershire, which is celebrating its centenary this year.
The show's over
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2007 has ended, after a week of glitz, glamour and horticultural heaven. The show gardens are already being dismantled, the Great Pavilion will soon be taken down, and the site returned to normal for another year.
“This has been a stunning show,” says Bob Sweet of the RHS. “There have been more big show gardens than ever before, more gold medals than ever before, and more smiling faces than ever before.”
This year’s show has also seen more controversy than in recent years over the judges’ choice of Sarah Eberle’s space-age 600 Days with Bradstone for Best in Show.
“It was a brave departure for the RHS,” says Bob. “But it recognised the creative endeavour which Sarah undertook.”
It’s been an eventful show in other ways: the environment took centre stage, and the word “sustainable” cropped up in the title of more than one garden. The RHS launched its first survey of the nation’s gardeners’ environmental habits. And in a poignant demonstration of how our activities as gardeners can mix up the natural world, an Italian butterfly accidentally stowed away on an imported yew and ended up lost and confused in SW3.
Six of the Chelsea show gardens will find homes elsewhere after the show; the rest will be broken up, although many of the plants and features will be re-used in other design projects. Meanwhile, designers are already drawing up plans for future show gardens and dreaming of glory in Chelsea 2008.
“Even as people are carrying out their plants at the end of this show,” says Bob Sweet, “I’m already enthused over what we’re going to see next year.”
The big sell-off
The bell has rung at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to signify the end of the show and the start of the much-anticipated sell-off of displays and gardens.
To cheers from the crowd, 101-year-old Chelsea Pensioner Bill Swingler rang the bell on the dot of 4pm on the last day of the show. Plant exhibitors in the Great Pavilion and staff on the show gardens are now allowed to sell plants directly to the public for the first time.
“There’s a real buzz,” said Yvonne, from Gravesend in Kent, who had just snaffled two clematis for £5 and was struggling to carry four large bags packed to bursting with plants. “You can get some great bargains!”
It’s like the January sales all over again: crowds stand ten deep around particularly coveted sell-offs, and it’s elbows at the ready as bags, trolleys and arms are filled to overflowing with plants. Though there’s an air of sadness as stands are reduced to little more than rubble and empty flower pots, this is one of the most celebrated traditions of Chelsea, and ensures the show ends in a real party mood.