Chelsea Flower Show: what garden products to look out for in 2017
1. Labelling tools by Alitags
Plant labelling is important and Alitags’ brass and steel jig and character punches, shown with copper tags by the same company, are beautifully made. The process of stamping Latin names on to metal tags is eminently pleasing.
2. Hotbin compost bins
These bins could be used near a kitchen and can compost a wide range of waste quickly, saving the need to traipse down the garden in the rain.
3. Flower portraits by Daan van Doorn
Prints from £350, paintings from £1,997
Daan van Doorn grows the old flower varieties he paints in his own nursery in the Netherlands. Combining watercolour technique and oils, he captures them displayed in historically accurate arrangements.
4. Scotland’s Gardens Fife Garden Trail
Between June 20 and July 13, you can explore nine privately owned gardens in Scotland for just £20 plus some travel money. Plants grow beautifully in the country’s cool clean air. When I took a tour a few years ago I saw jet-black tiger lilies on a loch edge. Magical.
5. Black Summer truffle trees by Franchi
£99 for four
The ultimate gastronomic luxury starts with these truffle-impregnated hazel bushes. They work extremely well provided you follow the instructions and plant them where they will be happy.
6. Vinehouse Ten by Gabriel Ash
The Vinehouse Ten greenhouse is designed to stand against a wall, making it possible to grow fruit such as apricots and figs — or vines — while also having enough space to propagate and grow under glass. Cedar-framed glasshouses sit well in a garden as the wood mellows to silvery grey.
7. Sculpture by John O’Connor
From £2,800 (piece pictured £15,000)
British sculptor John O’Connor creates striking figurative pieces in bronze and iron finishes. Some of his large works are more than two metres tall, and powerful in their emotional expression.
8. Dragonfly brooch by Bentley & Skinner
Unusually there is a high-end jeweller at this year’s flower show. Bentley & Skinner holds royal warrants for both the Queen and the Prince of Wales. Its Dragonfly brooch, featuring diamonds weighing 6.91 carats, demantoid garnets of 3.91 carats and ruby eyes, is workmanship at its finest.
9. Lead ‘egg cup’ planters by Bulbeck Foundry
From £1,250 (model pictured £2,180)
I desire very few things yet the egg cup planters, hand cast and finished in lead, by Bulbeck Foundry are high on my list. Started by Hugo Smith in a cowshed in the 1980s, Bulbeck is rooted in the golden age of 18th-century leadwork. Every piece is worth admiring if not coveting.
10. National Gardens Scheme Yellow Book
No glove compartment should be without a copy of the Yellow Book. The NGS encourages private gardeners to open up their plots once a year for charity and over the years I’ve seen some astonishing gardens in this way.
11. ‘Delphinium Chelsea’ collection
Blackmore & Langdon’s held its first display in 1903 at Temple Church, the forerunner to Chelsea Flower Show, winning a gold medal and it has never looked back. Its stand in the Great Pavilion is always a showstopper and delphiniums, if well treated (no slugs), will last for many years.
12. Rose/weeding rake by Sneeboer & Zn
Sneeboer tools are peerless. This one is especially handy for getting deep into a bed in midsummer to hoik out recalcitrant weeds. They are so strongly made that one can work without fear of anything bending or snapping.
13. Terracotta pots by Italian Terrace
£55-£1,675, depending on size
Italian Terrace makes beautiful pots and in sizes that work well in a garden. The pots make great focal points, are useful to enclose a terrace and will hold a small tree. The Vaso Cantina is wide with banded patterns reminiscent of strapped metalwork.
14. Recycled glass Jewel vases by Sarah Raven
Sarah Raven’s catalogue is a treasure trove driven by her exceptional colour sense. One can never have enough unfussy vases and these bright glass pieces can be built up into a handy collection — especially for when the sweet peas kick in.
15. Antique copper watering can by Garden & Wood
I love these mad antique French watering cans. I’ll buy another since the builders threw mine on a skip, failing to recognise it as a thing of beauty. Garden & Wood sells vintage garden tools and furniture that look fantastic as well as being as useful as they ever were.
16. Haveli tent by the Indian Garden Company
The Haveli tent, made from hefty sailcloth canvas, is rot- and rainproof so can be put up in spring and taken down in autumn. With a pretty hand-blocked print interior, it makes an attractive addition to a wild corner.