It was the 100th Chelsea Flower Show this year, and more gold medals were awarded than ever.. to some lovely, well-executed and sometimes slightly conservative show gardens.

But who cares what those fusty old judges thought! Here are my stand-out picks and commentary from the greatest flowery show on earth.

chelsea show flemings

Flemings are Aussie landscapers and show regulars, usually producing aspirational hot-tub'n'palm gardens. This year the owner threw his billabongs to the wind and sunk £1.2m of his own money to win best in show for his last appearance; "Nothing else would do." It worked. Wonderful.

best chelsea flemings pod

Most show gardens tend to have 'the shack at the back' to communicate tempting living space to the viewer. Instead, Flemings went for a giant, solar-powered flower-shaped studio...hey, why not! It powers and overlooks their wildflower billabong (the native word for an isolated pond that is left behind after a river changes course). Crazy in a good way.

best chelsea homebase frost

Adam Frost is a down-to-earth designer, landscaper and dad, who really sounds enthusiastic about the ways a great garden can feed and nurture family life. Vegetables jostle happily with perennials, paths are for running about on, and a built-in cooking bench and a comfy big table are designed to gather round.

chelsea show thompson

Highlighting the perils of diseases to our native species was always going to be a tough challenge to incorporate into a show garden. Dead trees? But Jo Thompson delivered an elegant and thoughtful space, with a sunken central sculpture, frothy planting and tempting pathways. My fave bits: the bold layout and the use of greys as a foil for the green & white.

best chelsea bradley hole

Christopher Bradley-Hole shook up the concept of a modern show garden in 1997. He's back again after an 8-year break to show his pared-back concept celebrating the English countryside, but with a nod to Japanese precision and a modernist twist. Mixed response from the crowd; it's not your typical G&T setting. My fave bits: the quality oak carpentry and black viewing walkway.

chelsea show kitchen

Round the back of the pavillion the various suppliers of gadgets and thingummies sell their stuff... including a pizza cooker who's kitchen workbench design, blurring inside living and out, caught my imagination. Shelves are great for small town gardens!

best chelsea japanese

I have a soft spot for Mr Ishihara, who runs the wonderfully-named Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory. Each year he produces very precise, very naturalistic, very beautiful small gardens. This 'alcove within a traditional Japanese tatami room', where important words are spoken with important guests, rightly wins best artisan garden.

chelsea meconopsis dunnett best

The star plant in star plantsman Nigel Dunnett's eco-rooftop garden was his Meconopsis 'Lingholm'. This Himalayan blue poppy thrives in cool, moist woodland spots... an environment Nigel is lobbying for us to try recreating on city rooftops to increase biodiversity.

best chelsea cloudy bay

I was taught by one half of this design duo, Wilson McWiliam...and my homework included a rammed-earth walled garden. Here, for their lovely little Cloudy Bay garden, rammed earth provides a great textural backdrop to copper, Irises 'Action Front' and 'Sable' and blowsy Paeony. I like to think I provided a little of the inspiration here...

best chelsea angelica frost

The majestic Angelica archangelica swaying 6 feet above Adam Frost's productive garden. All parts of this aromatic plant have culinary or medicinal uses, as well as producing candied angelica for cakes. Who needs expensive garden sculpture when this is so fab?

best chelsea cobble detail

This, for me, is the best of Chelsea. A tiny garden away from the main drag made with vision, love and fantastic attention to detail. Kati Crome and Maggie Hughes were backed by the National Botantic Garden of Wales to show how gardens and plants play a role in ancient, traditional, modern and alternative forms of healing. My fave bits: how I could imagine the feel of the path under my bare feet, the peacefulness it exuded.

chelsea show gnome

Perhaps it's because Chelsea tries to champion the serious, stylish side of gardening that it has banned gnomes for the past 99 years. Perhaps because they know it's members are actually only ever one misguided trip away from buying one themselves. Ironically of course. This year they let the blighters back in. A temporary measure.. for the photo op, you understand.

chelsea show pensioners

"Come on! Come on you lot, the lady wants a nice picture.. not one of your miserable fizzog. Cuddle up!" #bestchelseapensionersever

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