I have visited Hampton Court Flower Show in the past, but never had the privilege of attending the Chelsea Flower Show.
But then, when vivid natural colours like this are little more than a stone’s throw away from home, do I really need to get to Chelsea next week?
These exciting blooms are at the world famous Hillier Arboretum on the outskirts of Romsey, and you only need drive along the approach road to the Hillier gardens and you can savour all this glorious colour.
Maybe it lacks the formality of the Hillier displays at Chelsea, but the blazing colour of azalea and rhododendron bordering the road is unforgettable. Visit the arboretum itself and you’ll gain the pleasure of even more stunning displays.
The gardens were established over 60 years ago by the distinguished horticulturist Sir Harold Hillier, and today are renowned for hosting one of the world’s most important plant collections providing beauty whatever the season. According to the Garden's website it boasts a collection of over 42,000 plants from temperate regions around the world all within 180 acres.
Beauty like this not far from home is startling. I almost made Chelsea one year when my wife had an appointment at a hospital almost next door to the Flower Show, but somehow after the hospital visit we didn’t get to the Show.
But displays like this on our doorstep do much to make up for missing Chelsea in May.