Norfolk nurseries go for gold at Chelsea Flower Show

Peter Skeggs-Gooch and his mum Ruth Gooch of Reymerston-based Thorncroft Clematis

Peter Skeggs-Gooch and his mum Ruth Gooch of Reymerston-based Thorncroft Clematis - Credit: Archant

As the gates to the Royal Hospital Gardens at Chelsea opened to the world's media yesterday, with a frenzy of activity as photographers and camera crews vied for the best vantage points, there was also a very palpable sense of relief among the hundreds of nurserymen and women who have come to exhibit their prize horticultural specimens that their stands were complete and looking their very best.

Months of work have gone into the 15 show gardens which never cease to amaze in their creation from a bare patch of ground to a fully fledged garden, with trees in blossom and plants that look like they have been established in that spot for years.

This is the chance for the country's top garden designers to showcase their talents with even a prince getting involved this year – Prince Harry has worked with designer Jinny Blom to create a garden to educate visitors about his Sentebale charity helping vulnerable children in Lesotho. It takes the best part of a week for most of the exhibitors in the huge floral marquee that is the Great Pavilion to prepare and stage their displays on site, but the majority are over a year in the planning and together they produce a truly incredible spectacle.

Exotic blooms from Trinidad and Tobago rub shoulders with stunning clematis and roses from Norfolk, fuschias and pelargoniums from Suffolk, while a model sashays down the aisles wearing a dress made from grass and a woven parasol.

Celebrities are everywhere, given exclusive access ahead of the general public, from presenter Ben Fogle to Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp, comedian Rob Bryden to Esther Rantzen, George Lamb, Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, the list goes on, but each one is clearly inspired by the variety and sheer perfection of the displays presented before them.

Peter Skeggs-Gooch, who has just taken over the running of the family nursery Thorncroft Clematis in Reymerston, near Dereham, said the reward of a Gold medal was something they never took for granted.

'I think we are overly critical,' he said. 'Even though we have won Gold every year for the last six years we always look at the display and think we could have changed something.'

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