Top gardening tips from Hardy’s at Chelsea


Amateur and professional gardeners agree on one thing; the gardener’s mantra of ‘right plant right place’ is the soundest piece of garden wisdom ever dispensed and no one brings it to life and executes it better at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show than 19 times RHS Gold medal winner Rosy Hardy.

Every year one of the first exhibits I go to find is Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants – always a wonderful delight for the eyes and perfectly executed.

Putting on a large display in the Grand Pavilion at RHS Chelsea Flower Show is no mean feat, the logistics of getting plants to perform on time and ensure deliveries to the showground are timed to perfection takes patience and the dedication of a super professional team.

Some would say that after doing more than twenty Chelsea stands it must be rather like rolling off a log for the Hardy’s crew but when asked Rob Hardy would say: “We just handle the logistics and do the spade work, it’s the Mrs, the inimitable Rosy Hardy who conducts this floral symphony to its crescendo on the press day each year.

side-magic-dragonEach year is different and if the mild weather continues with sunshine the stand will be really cheery and colourful with lots of late Spring / early Summer favourites, crowd pleasers and of course 3 new introductions.

The stand has changed shape and is slightly smaller than recent years, at 11m x 8m it will however have the usual pathway through the exhibit, allowing visitors to walk through and get a full 360 degree view of thousands of brilliant garden favourites. There will be a banked area where on one side it will drop down to a pond with an undulating feel.

Trees, most likely Carpinus will be planted primarily to provide the shady area. Marshalls have provided the paving for the curving pathway which is recycled from a previous Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants Chelsea display.

This year, interesting plant material includes exotic and unusual Giant Madeira Black Parsley, Melanoselinum decipiens, an upright, robust, borderline hardy, semi-evergreen to evergreen, woody-based, biennial with a single, thick basal stem branching out to rosettes of large, pinnate, dark green leaves and, from late spring into early summer, large, dense clusters of tiny, fragrant, pale pink to white flowers followed by black seed heads.

There will be four new introductions to look out for – Pyracantha ‘Golden Paradise’, Rehmannia ‘Magic Dragon’, (pictured left) Antirrhinum ‘Pretty in Pink’ and the late comer to the party, Verbascum ‘Firedance’ (pictured as banner above) with its intense dusky red flowers that will make a bold statement in any garden.

There is always the chance to find something unusual and interesting on the Hardy’s exhibit – if you are going to Chelsea don’t miss it.