It's not huge, Chelsea. You don't need walking boots like you do for some of the other shows (Malvern, I'm looking at you). You're seldom more than five minutes walk from a bar. There are queues, and these are full of people complaining about the judges in chummy voices. But it took someone coming up to me and starting a conversation assuming I was an aspiring garden designer for me to realise just to what extent everyone knew everyone else.
I've been to lots of conventions in my time (comics and science fiction mainly) and it was amusing to map across the types - the super-fans, the workshop leaders, the eager kids, the grand muffs and the great old ones, the despised and the darlings. There's even a type for us, of course; curious outsiders.
I did enjoy it, and if my partner-in-plants is keen, fully intend to attend next year. But I think I might set myself a task beforehand. With so many people there in the business, working, ligging or shmoozing, I felt a proper slacker for simply attending.
I'll be back with more detail and photographs, but for now, five things I learned at Chelsea:
- If you're going to all the flap of having a green wall, you might as well make a feature of the irrigation system, Also: MOSS!!!!!
- Orange is the brightest colour. And also the most delicate colour, and the most mindful colour and the most politically active colour, While other colours exist, they are all in subjugation to orange, and in particular to this Iris. Orange.
- Raised garden platforms are completely a thing.
- Naked Lady Sculptures in your garden can sometimes work (however....)
- A queue is neither an adjunct nor an annoyance, but part of the experience; a tiny pilgrimage undertaken for purely practical reasons, a mizmaze made of social obligation, semi-awkward interaction and expectation. Queue!