CABAHS Medal-winning Chelsea Experiences (Kathy A)

As a volunteer at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I was expecting to be revelling in the uncrowded gardens at Press Day today, prior to going to work in the very crowded gardens later in the week. Very sad. But as I have time on my hands, I have looked into some of CABAHS history at the Show.

On 18th May 1987, CABAHS won a Grenfell Silver Gilt medal at that year’s show, for a window box display. In those days a lot of the Affiliated Horticultural Societies entered exhibits, as the Chelsea grounds were not so pressed for space or so prohibitively expensive. Here is our winning entry (thank you to Joyce and Jane for these photos).

In 1990, CABAHS won a Bronze medal in the hanging basket category. Then in 1991, we really went to town! With the help of sponsors, the Society entered the “City or Town Courtyard Garden” category. The brief was “An interpretation of plants to consider in the lifestyle conditions for the occupants of a property situated in a City or Town, with limited space”. The space given was 14ft x 11ft (4.3m x 3.4m). So here is the Plan:

191Courtyard Design

Here are pictures of the build process. Can you imagine the huge organisation that must have gone on behind the scenes, for our small amateur group! Marshalls (which is still in business) supplied the paving and seats. Members supplied a lot of the plants and organised the collection and transport.

391Courtyard 3

And the finished result:

591Chelsea Courtyard Final

Here are some members (Win Hayne on the left and Marjorie Perkins) relaxing in the garden while the visitors queue around them.

991Courtyard ladies sitting

We were featured on the BBC coverage, Alan Titchmarsh looks very young! He said there were 29 show gardens that year, and marvelled at the idea that some of them cost nearly £65,000.  Those were the days. The presenter for the small gardens was Anne Gregg. She complimented our design for getting a veg bed and herbs into the space, as well as the scented geraniums display.

791Chelsea Courtyard Queue

891Chelsea Courtyard Medal

We even got a mention in Amateur Gardening magazine.

999Courtyard Magazine

CABAHS entered the Courtyard Gardens again in 1992 and won a Bronze medal, and won a Silver in 1994 for its Windowbox and Hanging basket display.

I hope you enjoy this week’s TV coverage of the last decade of Chelsea, and look forward with fingers crossed to next year’s “real” show.

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