The Chelsea Chop


I have been thoroughly enthused by the Chelsea flower show, or is it the sunshine that has finally broken through? Either way both me and my plants seem to have gained vigour and enthusiasm and are eagerly looking forward to the flower show at Tatton Park.

I like the Chelsea flower show, I’ve never been but, to be fair, I don’t need to. The BBC coverage is so extensive I can view it all from the comfort of my own home. I even recall watching it at one o’clock in the morning. Don’t ask! What worries me about visiting Chelsea is the size of it. I have been spoilt regarding flower shows. I have exhibited many times at Tatton and love the sheer amount of space available to exhibitors and visitors.

The flower show is held in Tatton Park, a country estate with a fantastic mansion, stunning gardens, a working farm, a lake and acres of rolling parkland that is home to herds of deer, hundreds of rabbits and a rich array of flora and fauna, forming a fantastic backdrop to the show. I have seen some incredible sunsets when leaving the site at night, but on one occasion I remember having to stay much later to get my garden finished. Rain had slowed everything down,  judging was taking place early the next morning and I had a gravel path to lay. I spent that night on my hands and knees smoothing out gravel, silently so security didn’t notice I was there, listening to the sheep bleating and the hooting of the owls hunting in the night. Then, just for a moment, I forgot about my sore knees, my wrecked hands and the utter exhaustion I was suffering, I sat back, breathed a lungful of fresh air, tipped a wink at the moon and was happy.

But back to the Chelsea chop. The sudden increase in temperature has seen my herbs prosper and bloom, particularly the sage. I don’t know why this culinary herb isn’t grown more in herbaceous borders, the flowers are stunning. But it is too early for blooming I need flowers in July, and so I have been chopping. The Chelsea chop is a method of encouraging herbaceous plants to bush out whilst delaying their flowers. By cutting the plants down by one third at the end of May, to coincide with Chelsea, they will continue to grow vigorously and be at their best in July. Just in time for Tatton!




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