Chelsea Flower Show
Lights, camera, ATTENTION!
It’s Chelsea Flower Show this week. Today is press day when gardening glitterati, celebrities, royals and financial backers are given exclusive access before RHS members will be allowed in from tomorrow, followed by non members. I wrote this text below when it was Chelsea Flower Show week last year for an Instagram post. I still resonate with it and it had a significant response when I posted it last September, so I thought I would publish it here too, for anyone who might be feeling similarly, or just need a reminder whilst marvelling over those impossibly perfect show gardens.
It’s been Chelsea Flower Show this past week. I’ve caught snippets of it here and there - a little on this app and a little on TV - but I’ll be honest, I’ve not really been paying it much attention. There were years previously when I paid it an awful lot of attention. But your energy flows where your attention goes. And I’m increasingly aware, more than ever, how limited and precious energy really is. I know, for me, there are much better causes I can put mine towards.
But something that I mulled on yesterday, as I caught the tail end of a programme, I thought might be worth sharing... The point of the whole thing is gardens and plants for SHOW. They are literally being put up to be JUDGED as to how “GOOD” they are. The thing that is interesting to ask is: who is doing the judging? On what criteria? Why does their approval matter so much? Who appointed them? Why does the approval of those people/one institution matter more than any others? What are the power structures, hierarchies and privilege at play and reinforced in this system?
I don’t say any of this to reprimand anyone for enjoying this flower show, or any other flower show. None of this is to say you shouldn’t take part in it or should feel bad about doing so. They are merely questions you can choose to interrogate, or not.
When I reflect back on this past couple of weeks in my own garden, I note that we’ve had evidence of badgers visiting, a hedgehog has left a calling card by the back door two nights in a row, we’ve listened to owls shrieking in the early autumn air, I watched a glow worm larvae hunt a slug, we’ve had slow worms in the grass, last night I spotted a juvenile newt on the garden steps caught in the beam of my torchlight, the spiders have been industriously weaving their gossamer threads between fading flowers and I’ve been marvelling at their glistening beauty each morning.
And I realise that this kind of approval, of the real life garden space I am fortunate enough to care for, from my more-than-human kin, fills my heart and soul with so much joy and fulfilment. And it is not insignificant. Is this not the kind of approval that we ought to be placing much greater value on?
You can find the original IG post here.
Photo credit: Sui Searle