TheEye was relieved to have missed the first, more glamorous, day of the Chelsea Flower Show because looking glamorous when it’s pouring with rain is impossible, unless you have people holding large umbrellas over you. The rain was torrential and all those pretty frocks were covered by dreary rain gear.

The show was excellent, particularly the gardens sponsoring charities which deservedly won some of the coveted medals.

The work that goes into designing and creating these gardens and the dedicated people involved is remarkable

It was worth the battle to see this – all in perfect condition

Of course, it was a case of battling your way through the crowds of people taking selfies with a stunning garden behind them. But the thing about Chelsea is the enthusiasm. People come for the day from all over the country and are well-prepared, having done their preparation beforehand. They have studied the map and know where to go first.
They are certainly au fait with those selling bulbs, plants and flowers in the big tent.

The sponsor of The Flower Show is THE NEWT in Somerset, who also own Babylonstoren in Franschhoek, South Africa. A glorious place.

The Newt is built on the site of a Roman town and, after years of research and exploration with experts from all over the world, they were able to build a museum with artefacts from the time housed in an elegant purpose-built museum. Somerset has many Roman sites.

Senior Roman servant greeting visitors

However, the star attraction is the reconstructed Villa, which is possible to visit. It is modelled accurately on what the home of a comfortably-off Roman family would be like. You are given headphones as you enter, which operate spontaneously as you move around the villa being ‘escorted ” by the gossipy housekeeper. You are taken into the kitchen where she ticks off the rascally house servant, into the Master’s study with all his papers and seals scattered around and told that that night there is to be a banquet in honour of a visiting business colleague. We meet the mistress who is about to have a massage and see her beauty routine.
The gardens and the statues all seem so ‘real’.

Small bronze Roman Gods

Beautiful statue of Goddess with lamb in the garden of the Roman Villa

Garden with statues of Gods

Chelsea is an opportunity to get a small taster of the grandeur of the Villa, with some of the statues in a garden setting and one or two artefacts and, of course, two Roman servants clad in tunics.


TheEye saves the best for last – giving her time to linger and enjoy plants, flowers and herbs that can be ordered for planting at home. How the dealers manage to keep them looking so gorgeously fresh in such a warm environment tent for a week is a mystery, but there were some glorious colours and flowers. Even though not a lover of Dame Edma’s beloved ‘gladdies’, the purples, yellow and pinks were an artwork. The day most Flower Show aficionados look forward to is the opportunity to take (or buy modestly) what is not taken away. There are people lining up at the gates or even possibly camping overnight to be first in. A military operation with rewards if one of your rivals doesn’t elbow their way in front of you.

Well another year, another Chelsea is over.


Maybe it’s not Flower Show league, but TheEye is very pleased with the wild flower meadow on the roof of her very urban house, the only downside being her friends across the road get a much better view

© Janice Blackburn


  1. Felicity Osborne June 6, 2024 at 7:16 am

    Wonderful to be reminded with such great pictures of my own – rain free – visit to Chelsea this year. Thanks so much

  2. i so miss your weather – no rain now till October – so lots of tones of beige Your visit looks glorious and inspiring

  3. Amazing photos! Loved this piece.

  4. Magnificent! Makes me proud to be British. Your story and pictures do this great event justice.

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