The RHS Chelsea Flower show is, without doubt, one of my favourite events of the year. I have been most years for just about 10 years now and loved it each and every time. After not being able to make it to the previous two shows, I was very much looking forward to going this year. Especially as I had been invited to Jardin Blanc.
Jardin Blanc is Raymond Blanc’s hospitality suite, tucked away in a quiet corner of the show ground and is a perfect slice of escapism it itself. Within the suite are several function rooms and a central bar area. There is a kitchen garden inspired by Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and a charming lawned seating area.
You may remember, as I mentioned earlier this year, writing a short piece for Raymond Blanc’s Jardin Blanc Mother’s Day e-book, so it seemed only right that I take my mum to the event with me. Mum has never been to the show so it was a treat to have her there.
As you might expect, food and drink are very much the focus at Jardin Blanc.The table settings within our suite were beautiful. From the pretty china and hand drawn table numbers to the menus printed on paper filled with seeds so we could take it home and grow our own mini garden.
On each table there were terrariums filled with micro herbs and salad. Alongside them sat bonsai scissors so we could garnish the dishes as we chose. What we ate was prepared with produce from the gardens at Le Manoir. Each was a joy to experience, not to mention the selection of drinks, cocktails, mocktails and juices on tap. Attention to detail is evident everywhere you look!
The staff were attentive and always on hand, the atmosphere buzzing and the food demonstration Raymond Blanc himself presented in the bar area was a joy to watch.
Later in the day I particularly enjoyed a presentation by artisan gin distillers Warner Edwards. Their rather beautiful copper distilling machine (I’m sure that’s the correct term, maybe) had been in action all week at Jardin Blanc distilling a special blend specifically for the show. What really stuck in my mind though was their parting sentence. “We are saving the world from mediocre gin.”
Of course the gardens and stands at the Chelsea Flower Show are judged and given awards early in the week. The Best Show Garden was awarded to the M&G garden pictured above. James Basson drew inspiration for the design from Maltese quarries. I have to say I loved it, though not everyone did and many of the comments I heard from others were along the lines of it wasn’t for them.
I can’t help feeling that the discussion it provoked is a good thing though, that it gets people thinking and challenges our idea of ‘garden’.
Of course no trip to the flower show is complete without a wander around the Royal Pavillion. Admittedly, since we went on the last day of the show, some of the flowers looked a little tired. But there is still so much to be inspired by! As always one of my favourite stands was by David Austin Roses who had put on a beautiful display.
And then, of course, the advantage of going on the last day is being there for the great plant sale. I may have carried a giant cactus home in a box on the train (with not a few strange looks thrown my way)…
The Chelsea Flower Show is not just about flowers and gardens though. In amongst the stands and stalls are some gems to be found and I was very excited to find Bellerby & Co there with their exquisite globes. They have been an Instagram crush of mine for 2 1/2 years or so, needless to say it was a joy to meet them in the Artisan corner.
All in all it was another inspirational Chelsea Flower Show with the added joy of experiencing Jardin Blanc!
JArdin Blanc – via the RHS website
our tickets to Jardin Blanc were gifted, all thoughts and opinions are my own