Flemings and Jason Hodges win silver at Chelsea.

ByJames Wall

flemings trailfinders bath scene

Australia has once again held it’s head high at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the UK. Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Fleming’s was designed by Jason Hodges and has been awarded a Silver Gilt award, which is not quite a gold, but still highly acclaimed. Wes Fleming was interviewed on the 3AW gardening show yesterday and I could sense a bit of disappointment at the result. At first I though he was being a bit precious, but then I realised, that just as an athlete strives for perfection and has a mental focus aimed at being the best, so to does a gardener at the world’s biggest gardening event.  Wes has been no different to an athlete in his determination to win ‘best in show’ and  gold at Chelsea. He did not do that this year, however he did accept the award graciously and vowed to continue his quest next year.

flemings trailfinders complete with plunge pool

Jason Hodges, who is well known as a host on Better Homes and Gardens has previously won two gold medals at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show. He is a hard worker who has gained much experience in the Chelsea arena. He seemed humbled by the whole experience and will no doubt come back to Australia with some wonderful design inspiration.

The other Better Homes and Garden man Graham Ross was also at the show and once again put together a very entertaining presentation which included chats with Ricky Gervais, Ringo Starr, Joan Collins, Sir Cliff Richard, Roger Daltrey from The Who, Jerry Hall and Sir Michael Caine. Congratulations on getting such an A-list on aussie tv. It shows what a grand gardening event Chelsea really is.

Why was it not a gold ? Last year I really thought that Flemings deserved a gold. This year though I am not so sure. Certainly it appeared that the level of craftsmanship, sleek design and quality of plants was of gold medal standard. Maybe however the concept is not of gold medal in the judges mind. It appears that they prefer traditionally stylised gardens where the plants are the stars and the rest of the design is natural, earthy looking things that are there to highlight the plants. The Fleming’s garden may be an attempt to show the world a modern aussie “we live outdoors” garden, but maybe the sleek bbq, pointy plants, futuristic chairs and fancy beams protruding from walls are just too far away from nature. It was interesting that Ricky Gervais mentioned to Graham Ross that as a kid, he loved his family’s big garden and how important it was to get close to nature. To me the part of the Flemings garden that did work, was the hidden bath and shower area  because it was part of nature – it was lush with chunky foliage.

Kazuyuki Ishihara designed Gold Medal winner

Kazuyuki Ishihara

Cleve West wins "best in show"

Traditional gardening showed its prominence again by the fact that a new foxglove “Illumination Pink” won the plant of the year. Foxgloves (digitalis) conjure up thoughts of a classic English garden with its stately spires

Digitalis Illumination Pink

Digitalis Illumination Pink

flowering in spring gardens. It is a Thompson And Morgan variety which I hope we see in Australia soon.

Let me finish by just saying I have never been to Chelsea, so my view of it is from afar. I have viewed a lot of the show from TV and of course the RHS Chelsea website which is worth a look. You will have to search for the Flemings page as it wasn’t listed with the other silver guilt winners. I also must make clear that some of the photos below were photographs off the TV while Better Homes and Gardens was on, and the rest of them were taken off the RHS website and if I knew who these superb photographs were taken by, I would have mentioned them.

We can all dream about this show and many fortunate Australian gardeners have seen it, or will one day see it. Hopefully one day, I am one of them, and you are too !

Wes and Jason wait nervously for their result.

Wes and Jason wait nervously for their result.

Trailfinders Flemings Garden

Trailfinders Fleming's Garden

Jason Hodges and Graham Ross wave goodbye.

Jason Hodges and Graham Ross wave goodbye.

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