Chelsea is all over for another year. After so many hours of TV coverage and acres of print and digital media, it was a great addition to the week to have a Vista night at the Garden Museum on Thursday with some real life chat and amicable banter about the show. Top billing was winner Andy Sturgeon and his best-in-show rival Tom Stuart Smith, chatting to Tim Richardson and Noel Kingsbury. Landscape designer Brita von Schoenaich likened Andy's win this year to beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon - Tom has three best-in-show medals.
It was great to hear both designers talk about their Chelsea gardens in person (they were obviously tired and a bit hoarse from interviews), debate the judging process and discuss the big Sustainability issue. In the old days (not so very many years ago), gardens would just be dismantled and dumped. Now, they mostly get sold off, recycled or rebuilt, so that's progress. But gardens are still shipped in from Australia (naming no names), and most of the trucks delivering to the site run on diesel. So there is still a way to go. But the evening wasn't all worthier than thou discussions.
My favourite quote was Tom Stuart-Smith on the perfectionism of show gardens, admitting: "Occasionally I get a client who comes to see my show garden and says: why doesn't my garden look like this!" Catch the full evening on the Gardens Illustrated podcast series soon.