We are very proud of our Victorian gardens at Darley House, designed by Joseph Paxton. Since we are always looking for further ideas and inspiration, we love visiting other gardens and shows. So, we were eager indeed to be at the first RHS Chatsworth Show, partnered by Wedgwood.
Here are some of the show's highlights for us:
Visitors could explore the show site on both banks of the river Derwent, linked by several bridges. One was a golden opportunity for Jonathan Moseley to create his floral palladian bridge. Jonathan's exquisite floral artistry lining the sides and ceiling was breathtaking. Consequently we are now looking out for Jonathan's next floral workshops at Chatsworth which apparently get booked up very quickly.
We were mesmerised by these intricate and detailed sculptures which dominated the skyline near the floral bridge and marquees. Whilst photographing them, I randomly managed to capture a bird mid-flight imitating a loose seed head! (see photo below)
Chatsworth created a new FreeForm garden category to encourage sculptural designs and features without limits. The winner was the Brewin Dophin garden by award winning designer Jo Thompson. This combined naturalistic planting with contemporary industrial materials and a striking sculpture of cast iron railings following the curve of the river. This was our favourite - a glorious and colourful, sweeping mix of perennials that worked beautifully alongside the water.
We really liked the way that the Moveable Feast garden, designed by Tanya Batkin and sponsored by Vergette Ltd, offered a practical gardening solution for a "letting lifestyle". Designed for a couple starting out together, the modular design is transportable. Owners can reconfigure them, move them into shelter for frost protection and of course take to a new home. You can even have an edible shed roof so you can snack while you garden!
Chatsworth is a central pillar of the Peak District community. So it was only natural that people could vote online for their favourite show garden. And the people’s choice was… The Belmond Enchanted Garden designed by Butter Wakefield. A romantic and natural garden to let your imagination wander – amongst the wildflower planting, along woven, willow fences and up the dreamy spiral staircase.
Finally, the piece de résistance for us was the inflatable Great Stove in honour of Jospeph Paxton and the 6th Duke's pioneering plant explorations. Joseph Paxton was even there in person to explain the design of his giant glasshouse. Here he created the perfect conditions for the 'Dwarf Cavendish' banana to flower for the first time in 1835. The descendent of this original plant is still at Chatsworth and furthermore, this is the main variety that we eat today.
Chatsworth certainly added an innovative flair and put the Peak District stamp on the RHS Flower Show map - from the giant, well-dressing floral "RHS" letters by the banks of the Derwent, to the dry stone wall building demonstrations. It was a fabulous day out despite the weather which challenged both organisers and guests alike. But everyone donned their wellies and embraced the festival spirit. I couldn't stop thinking how wonderful it would have been in full sunshine ...but then there is always next year!
RHS Chatsworth Show is back from 6th to 10th June 2018 and Darley House, with it's rich garden history and size, is the ideal base for a large group of garden lovers to come and visit. For more information, visit our website, or call Lucy on 07719 894663. We are 20 minutes drive from Chatsworth and sleep 14.