Episode 15 RHS Chelsea Flower Show


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Episode 15

As the RHS Chelsea Flower Show draws to a close, Alan Titchmarsh and Chris Beardshaw look back at the highlights of the event, from a floral scaffold pyramid to a topiary corgi.


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The gates of the 2012 Floral Olympics have closed. The RHS

:00:12.:00:18.

Chelsea Flower Show is over for another year. Before London sees

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our athletes replace them there's time to look back at some of the

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magical moments that made this year's events one of the

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horticultural high points of our year. Coming up this evening:

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Origin of the species. Tom Hart Dyke traces some of this year's

:00:35.:00:38.

great plants back to their birthplace. They're for sure the

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Kings and Queens of the deserts. Hugh's views, Hugh Dennis treats us

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to his own look at the show this year. I have an urge to do that,

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but I am worried if you push down on the tops somewhere else in the

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garden something explodes. Diamond debutants, with the Jubilee

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celebrations around the corner, we meet the new floral arrivals

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:01:13.:01:16.

Hello, thank you for joining us as we indulge in one last lingering

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look at the best bits of Chelsea 2012. In spite of the predictions

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to the contrary, this has been a vintage year, hasn't it? It's been

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stunning. Plants bridled by the cold, we have seen plants around us

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plants shivering and then suddenly the heat came on, winter finished a

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week and a half ago and everything just burst. The flowers and foliage

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faced the sun, everyone reracksed - - relaxed. It looks stunning. I

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think it's a vintage year. I don't think I have ever started the week

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in tweed and ended - and thermal underwear, you are right, and ended

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in short sleeves. We had leaves dropping off the trees above us.

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The heat has come too quick for them. It will all come right in the

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end. Yes, everything corrects itself. All the plants catch up and

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it's just perfect. As indeed it has been. The show gardens this year

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reflected a mix of gardens, stretching back to ancient Persia

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as Rachel and I discovered. The gardens of Persia emphasised

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the preciousness of water and that's what Nigel Dunnett has done

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here. This building at the end here, this

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was inspired by those little houses you find in Italy and if you look

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up inside you will see the most wonderful dry stone roof which is

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rather like an egg made entirely of pieces of sandstone. It's truly

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beautiful. Here the paving is more smooth. There is a practical angle

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to this, as would you expect from Nigel, a man involved in the design

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for the Olympic Park, all these beds here and their plantings allow

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water to drain through them and into these canals on either side,

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so they're part of the purification process. Also, a retaining water,

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which as we know even in a drought is a precious commodity. The

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planting is interesting. Grasses mixed with perennials but also

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Here the white variety. In front of me bright orange which contrast

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markedly with the turqoise bottom of the pond and water and I thought

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who would put together orange and turqoise and then I will remember,

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if you forget the name drop, when I last interviewed Claudia Schiffer

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she was wearing those colours. It's the Claudia Schiffer garden really.

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Well, this is a little slice of Heaven. It's the Arthritis Research

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UK Garden designed about -- by Tom Hoblyn. He took inspiration from

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rennaissance gardens. He has used stone and here it's rough hewn and

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masculine and smooth along the bench and that side. The planting

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is so beautiful. It's very much designed to cope with those arid

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conditions. You have things that are silver leaf. And also little

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bits of colour. The red poppy. And then at the back those five Cyprus

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trees and they're balanced on the other side by the oak. This is also

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a garden about water. You have three different forms. The lovely

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still pool here with stepping stones.

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You have the cascade at the very back. I think best of all, just

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look at this, water shoots leaping across that box hedge with the

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hedging as a background. Again, they just pop through the jets of

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water in the back of the seating and they're lit, so at night they

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really shine. It's a fabulous garden to look at, it's even better

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the history in a garden, it begins with the ancient, this well head

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but mixes ancient with modern. Here sits this well head on cobbles in

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this forecourt with a lime tree, a good old-fashioned touch. As we

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move forward, we start to get a touch more modern. Cleve says this

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garden is geometical and it seems to mix all kinds of periods which

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have been covered in 250 years. We come to a sunk area in the centre,

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which has at each corner the most magnificent topiary spesmans on the

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site this year. These are like great chessmen erupting among beds

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of border perennials. Then two formal and old-fashioned gate piers

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here, sitting attop them flaming stone with this wonderful rusted

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ornate gate. Interests a -- there is a modern touch. At the foot of

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the gate post you have skwruting out this wonderful channel

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depositing water water and it runs down either side of this central

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path. They seem to be the signature of Chelsea 2012. These are made of

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wonderful cobbled sets. It's a wonderful mixture of 250 years of

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old and new. Of the 16 large show gardens, nine

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were awarded gold this year which gives you some idea of the standard

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of execution. One of them went to Mr BeardShaw. Chris, I have been

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looking at this all week and today it was go up those steps and I have

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and it's magical! It's like those wonderful twisted tree paintings.

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Great craftsmanship and planting. You are pleased? Thrilled and this

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idea of this path leading you on, you don't really know where you are

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going, it's encouraging you to explore. That's reminiscent of a

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philosophy that teachers have back at Furzey with adults with learning

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disabilities. They don't take them on face value. They allow them to

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settle and encourage exploration of their own personalities to find out

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how horticultural can mesh in to their requirements. Everybody is

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best at something, and what they seem to do is find out what you or

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I and people there are best at and produce something like this. To

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watch this over the week it's changed. Amazing. Full bud at the

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beginning of the week, now fading. This is coming on. It's the

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choreography. That reminded me about Monday and the stars and

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celebrities who turn up here at this choreographied vent all glam -

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- event all glamorous. You wonder how many have come to be seen and

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get their faces in the paper and how many are keen and interested

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gardeners? One who was was Hugh Dennis and he gave us his take on

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gardens. I like the kind of British obsession with gardens.

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This is the Cleve West garden. He is a garden designer, not as many

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of you probably imagine a suburb of Cleve, he is an actual man. I like

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this topiarised yew, I believe it is. I have a touring do that with

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one of the tops but I am worried if you push down somewhere else in the

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garden something explodes. These gates, I think, are from a

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salvage yard and they're absolutely beautiful. They have a slight

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Mediterranean feel, Middle Eastern almost. They absolutely make this

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little bit like a purple and green microphone, but mostly they look

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like an enormous psychedelic dandelion clock, I think. Just

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beautiful. That brings back memories, we had a

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massive yucca in our garden and I used to ride my bike obsessively

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around the track which went past this tree and most days I fell off

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into it, it was right on the corner and it's essentially like nature's

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upturned knife block. I wouldn't have one in the garden now,

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That's what it is, holy vegetables. It seems to be easy to grow a

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massively long parsnip than carrot, wonder why that is? Those leeks

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look like things you would feed into a machine-gun, don't they?

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They're fantastic. Not as fantastic as this, which is a Formula One car

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made entirely out of hedge. You have to think, you know, with all

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the advances in Formula One technology that's probably a bit of

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a mistake. If you leave this car standing for too long it actually

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roots, does it? Every 26 laps it has to come in for a prune. I am

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freaked out by the hedge people. They're ever so slightly like

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something out of Dr Who. This is Arnie Maynard's garden.

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This walkway is fantastic. It's copper beech. Fantastic. There is a

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big conflict in our garden between kind of herbicious and planted

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borders and grass at the end of which is a massive football goal.

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Both bits have to be there, you know. I am sort of on the football

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side of it, mostly. Well, Hugh was visiting in the

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daylight but as evening descends, Chelsea takes on a new magical

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quality. Everything falls silent. The time we gardeners love, we

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arrive, quiet contemplation and that's the best time of day. It's

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extraordinary, you can know a garden so intimately during

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daylight hours and just after dusk, just as the sun's gone, especially

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if there is sa good moon in the sky or designers use subtle lights for

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architecture or plants it takes on a magical feeling and it really has

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a connection with the emotions, not just the gardens, it's like the

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great pavilion as well. I was in there at 2.00am and there was just

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me and a lonely blackbird who thought it was dawn because the

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lights were on. The smell in there is just intensified. It's paradise

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t really is. As the sun goes down we come inside, shut the door and

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that's it, thank you and good night garden until tomorrow. We should go

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out more and investigate, not great flood lights, but a little bit of

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something as you say, just to highlight it and appreciate this

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magical new world. That's definitely the key. It's all about

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placing your light in a subtle way so that you almost don't know there

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are lights in the garden and then you get the maximum effect. A light

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goes off at 10.30pm and I go out to see them on. It's imagine came. We

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have lots more memories to share with you, still to come:

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Royal recollections. James Alexander Sinclair talks to

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exhibitor who is played host to the Royal party this year. The Queen

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was in your garden? That's right. She seemed to know what she was on

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about, which is nice. Mary berry invites us on her own tour of the

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show. Oh, gosh, it's a myriad of Great Pavilion is the diverse mix

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of plants. You can see restios and Japanese maples next to each other.

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The temptation to travel the horticultural world got the better

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of Tom Hart Dyke earlier this week, when he had the opportunity to soak

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up some of the Pavilion's great exceedingly fantastic place to see

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a wide range of plants that have evolved so successfully in their

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native habitats. These are commonly called air

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plants and are a hugely diverse family from Florida all the way

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down to central and South America. The most iconic example of

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adaptation to air plants is that they grow as not parasites, they

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simply use the host as anchorage for good light, air and drainage.

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The good thing about a particular type of air plant, this old man's

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beard or Spanish moss, is that it has no roots at all. It simply uses

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its leaves to absorb the moisture and nutrients through special pores.

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It's one of the most successfully adapted plant to a wide range p

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conditions. Hats off to the air plant.

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The cacti in particular are very adaptable to a wide range of

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conditions. Instead of leaves they have spines, reducing their surface

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area. They also have curious structures at the base of the

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spines all areoles, where the new growth, flowers and spines come

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from. At the base of that it's very furry. They absorb moisture from

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the air. The moisture drips down the side of the cactus onto the

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soil. The roots absorb this moisture. The other important thing

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to mention about cacti are their curious shapes, which acts as a

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reservoir in times of drought. There is no doubt to me, the cacti

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are for sure the kings and queens of the deserts.

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This picture plant has a fabulous mechanism for survival. It grows on

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very poor, nutrient deficient soils. They produce modified leaves full

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of water and enzymes. When the fly gets close to the plant ah, tracted

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by the very meaty colours here, the insect will land sideways on the

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edge of the lip of the picture. It's a very slippery lip. It's like

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an ice-skating rink. It tries to scabl as it falls into the pitcher.

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In there are water, and digestive enzymes. Flies, bugs and even frogs

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are absorbed into the plant itself. They need to do this because they

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live on such poor soils. In 1998, I saw a rat's tail sticking out the

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end of this particular variety. Commonwealth will Join Together to

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celebrate Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. On Monday, as she

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made her customary visit to the show ground there was a feeling of

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celebration in the air. James Alexander-Sinclair was on hand to

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soak up the atmosphere. The gardens are ready, the hard

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work is done. The flowers are prim ped. The rain has gone and the sun

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has gone out. The atmosphere changes to one of anticipation, as

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we wait patiently and quietly for the arrival of the patron, Her

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Majesty the Queen. Since 1816 the society has received

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royal patronage from the reigning monarch. Her Majesty follows in the

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footsteps of Queen Victoria and her father King George VI.

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This year is Her Majesty's 48th advise ut to the show. This time,

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in honour of her Diamond Jubilee, the society have created a special

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garden just for her. Then it's off to the Great Pavilion.

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Once inside Her Majesty talks to children from the Knightsbridge

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schools garden before making her way through Raymond Evison's

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clematis stand. What did she like? Loved this. We put out a call to

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the school where the children gave us their smelly trainers and we

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made them smell better. She spent some time with the orchid society

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of Great Britain having a special interest in one of the flowers.

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same orchid was in her wedding bouquet. That's the one? That is it.

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Back outside and onto the show gardens, where Her Majesty took

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time to speak to the designersment The Queen was on your garden?

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That's right. Did she take any cuttings? No, she seemed to know

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what she was on about, which was nice. She enjoyed your bubbles.

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did. She wondered if I put soap in it. I thought that was a great idea.

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This year when we're all celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, it

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feels extra special. To commemorate the Queen's 60

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glorious years, the RHS launched a new Diamond Jubilee award, the

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accolade goes to the best exhibit in the great paiflion. This year it

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went to this one, greated by H W Hyde and son for their lilies. The

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celebrations didn't stop there as many nurserymen arrived at Chelsea

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with a plethora of new plants bearing a royal title. Carol Klein

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was there to greet them. There's no doubt Chelsea's gone

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Jubileetastic. It's a great opportunity to discover new plants,

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bred especially for the Diamond Jubilee. What better flower to

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celebrate the Diamond Jubilee than a rose. What a beautiful rose too!

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This is a modern classic rose, one of a brand new series, which

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combines all the qualities of the old roses, that sense of romance

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and softness, with the robustness and solidity that you come to

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expect from modern roses. The rose itself is called the Queen's

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Jubilee rose. It's got shiny green foliage and the most gorgeous

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scented flowers. It's a real belter! This rose is not just for

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Chelsea. It's going to be planted all along the Jubilee greenway, so

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people will be able to enjoy it this year and it will go on giving

:22:17.:22:27.
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them pleasure for years to come. I was lucky enough to be sent a few

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sample seeds of this brand new variety of sweetpea. It's called,

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of course, Diamond Jubilee, and it really is one of the most beautiful

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sweetpeas I've seen. It's got these pale pink flowers, this gorgeous

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picotee edge. Though the flowers have a delicate fragility, the

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plants themselves are robust. They give long stemmed stalks with maybe

:22:56.:23:03.

four or five flowers to each stem. The colours -- the colour's divine,

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but when you lean over and smell, there's the most beautiful perfume.

:23:07.:23:17.

What more could you want? With sweetpeas and roses, it's all about

:23:17.:23:23.

flowers, but on this stand there's hardly a flower in site. Here it's

:23:23.:23:28.

foliage that's important and what foliage it is - dark, dramatic,

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truly exciting. And there's one new introduction, it's Diamond Queen.

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There are lots of queens at Chelsea this year. Here's a fragrant one.

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It's hosta fragrant Queen and it's got delightful lily-like pale lilac

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flowers full of scent. Of course, the real reason you grow hostas is

:23:53.:23:59.

for their magnificent foliage. In this case, big vair gaited, heart-

:23:59.:24:05.

shaped leaves. One of the problems with growing hostas is that they're

:24:06.:24:12.

very prone to attack by slugs. But in this case, off with their heads!

:24:12.:24:15.

It's always refreshing to hear other gardeners' views and get

:24:15.:24:18.

their take on Chelsea. Cookery writer and broadcaster Mary Berry

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joined us on Wednesday to share her passion for gardening. Mary loves

:24:23.:24:27.

roses. So there was a certain predictability about her route

:24:27.:24:34.

around the show. Oh, gosh, it's a myriad of

:24:34.:24:43.

different plants and colours. Oh, here's a friend. We've grown these

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now for three years. They are wonderful smell, lovely for picking,

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healthy foliage. We prune them in March really hard, took everything

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out as thin as a pencil. They're looking very good now. But here

:24:58.:25:08.
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they are in bloom - what a joy. I just love this because you can

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see how big the actual hostas grow. There are miniature ones, there are

:25:15.:25:25.
:25:25.:25:26.

big ones. I go for the big ones because I like a big show. I have

:25:26.:25:30.

great success with hostas, but what I really want to know about are

:25:30.:25:33.

hardy freesias. There is a new range of prepared freesias, which

:25:33.:25:38.

means that they've been given the cold treatment, because freesias

:25:38.:25:42.

are a native of South Africa, so they can be grown. The biggest

:25:42.:25:46.

problem is drainage. They like good, well drained soil and they need the

:25:47.:25:51.

cold period. Best to plant in the Autumn time. Let them sit in the

:25:51.:25:54.

cold soil over winter, then they'll germinate in spring and the new

:25:54.:25:58.

growth will start to come through. Oh, I can't wait to order some.

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will be exciting. Thanks for your advice. You're welcome.

:26:07.:26:12.

This is my favourite garden. It's got wonderful structure. This would

:26:12.:26:16.

be lovely throughout all seasons. I like the way they've grown their

:26:16.:26:21.

roses. I like the idea that you can weave Hazel into a nice dome. I

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might have a go at making them. I've had such a wonderful day. This

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must be the place Chelsea ever. I've got lots of new ideas, all my

:26:32.:26:42.
:26:42.:26:43.

questions answered and I can't wait to get in the garden this weekend.

:26:43.:26:46.

You know, she even brought me lavender shortbread. It was

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delicious Mary. Thank you very much. It's been a week of memorable

:26:49.:26:53.

moments, something we've all come to expect from Chelsea. So, as this

:26:53.:26:58.

year's flowers begin to fade, let's capture those moments just once

:26:59.:27:08.
:27:09.:27:09.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 60 seconds

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on from those memories, yet move on we must. The excitement for Chelsea

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2013 is already starting to build as the royal horticultural prepares

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to celebrate the centenary of the to celebrate the centenary of the

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very first official show. Before then, there's a host of other

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gardening shows to enjoy, Gardners' World Live kicks off at the

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National Exhibition Centre in June. I'm building a small allotment

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As the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show draws to a close, Alan Titchmarsh and Chris Beardshaw look back at the highlights of the event. From a floral scaffold pyramid to a topiary corgi, Alan and Chris celebrate the horticultural magic that has entertained the nation throughout the week. There is a look back at the big medal-winning gardens and nurseries, and a last chance to revel in the amazing plants on display.