Judges mull over Roger Platts' Clebration of the Traditional garden
by Lesley Bellew
While the judges are mulling over their decisions at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, some very obvious show garden winners have already emerged - those who have grown and nutured their own plants.
A case in point is Edenbridge garden designer Roger Platts who has been so immersed in his planting scheme that it has added an extra dimension to his Celebration of the Traditional garden.
While many other designers along the Main Avenue were having plants delivered from suppliers at the weekend, Roger had more or less finished his garden for M&G Investments by bringing in about 80 per cent of his own plants.
He actually 'knows' the plants. He has seen them developing every day and he has selected the very best from a choice of 5,000 specimens. Everything is as it should be - his trademark Rambing Rector roses on the pergola are just opening, the styrax is at perfection.
The delphinimums and lavender are just ready to burst into a haze of purple and blue. Everything is at the right height. There are no gaps but the garden is full without looking cluttered.
It is a quintessentially English, romantic and simple-looking scheme that defies five months' hard graft of nurturing the plants through the long, cold winter.
If the judges can't tell the difference between this quality of planting and that of the 'just bought over the phone and delivered to Chelsea' specimens it will be a travesty.
Gold for Roger Platts will be like winning Olympic Gold for Kent.
He should not be alone. Jo Thompson, from Marden, with her contemporary urban garden for the charity Thrive, also shines through because she has been so involved with her plants.
She does not have quite the same access to a huge nursery like Roger but does have unrivalled enthusiasm and the advantage of being able to visit her beloved plants as often as she likes - particularly the Iris at Sue Marshall's in Marden and Brian Hershey's in Maidstone. Even Roger Platts supplied Jo with a few plants for good measure.
The combinations of rich, deep colours including purple Jamie Roo (a new Iris to Chelsea) and the muted orangey reds of Hot Chocolate roses are a sensation.
Move over, Dame Kelly! This has got to be double gold for Kent.