There is no Frigate like an issue of Country Life magazine to take me Lands away.
My weekly reverie in the joys of rural life in Great Britain has been my ticket for fantastic armchair voyages to see Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester home, the restored crimson silk panels in the Saloon of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, the Norfolk churches that delighted Sir John Betjeman, and the reproduction of the 17th-century Savonnerie carpet in the Red Drawing Room at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.
It also inspired a craft project based on a spectacular installation of more than 300,000 handcrafted poppies mentioned in the magazine’s coverage of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
The Royal Horticultural Society holds the prestigious annual show for five days during the last week of May. First held in Kensington in 1862 and known as the Great Spring Show, the Chelsea Flower Show has taken place on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London since 1912. Over 157,000 people visit the show each year, including several members of the British Royal Family.
Gardeners of all skill levels descend on the 11-acre site during the show to discover garden trends, see new plant releases, discuss ideas and techniques with professionals, and gain inspiration from spectacular gardens and floral displays. When my father attended the Chelsea Flower Show in 1998, he saw all sorts of memorable things, including a floral representation of the Angel of the North, an iconic contemporary sculpture located near Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, and The Imaginary Garden of Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld’s tribute to the famed fashion designer.
This year’s show, held May 24-28, focused on achieving mental, physical and emotional fitness through interactions with plants. New releases from David Austin Roses included Rosa Roald Dahl, a compact shrub marking the centenary of the birth of Roald Dahl, the British novelist who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other classics for young readers.
To honor veterans as part of ongoing World War I centennial commemorative activities, the Royal Horticultural Society and Royal Hospital Chelsea invited Australian textile artists Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, together with landscape designer Philip Johnson, to line this year’s show’s central route with poppies handmade by people from around the world.
In 2015, Berry and Johnson planted a field of thousands of handmade poppies in Melbourne, Australia to commemorate the centennial of the landing at Anzac Cove during the war’s Gallipoli Campaign. Crafters crocheted, knitted, felted or sewed poppies in varying shades of red, using their own patterns or those provided by the organizers. Click here and here to see photographs of the poppy display the team created for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day, November 11, is a United Kingdom tradition honoring those who have died in the line of duty. The tradition was inspired by “In Flanders Fields,” the poem by John McCrae.
This year, I’ll be wearing poppies that I made using the patterns Berry and Johnson developed to knit or crochet for their “5000 Poppies” project. I knit the Lynn’s Easy Knitted Poppy and the Lynn’s Easy Ribbed Knit Pattern, available here, as well as Katy Sparrow’s “Remembrance Poppy to Knit,” a free Ravelry pattern download available here.
For more on this unique tribute of respect and remembrance, click here. Click here for a roundup of highlights from this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. For more on the show, read Best Garden Design: Practical Inspiration from the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, by Chris Young.