In May, we have prepared something extraordinary for you - we have not one, but three peonies this month!! To start, let us show you the special episode of the "Peony of the Month Chat Show" where our usual crew is were joined by two Chelsea Pensioners - Barbara and John - who share with us how life at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is and what the RHS Flower show means to them. We also have Ric Glenn - the Royal Hospital Grounds Manager - show us the famous Ranelagh Gardens and tell us their history:
May Special Edition
All of our May peonies are red because of the visit that the Peony of the Month team - Siyuan Ren, Billy Carruthers, Heath Urquhart and Jens Jakobsen paid to the Royal Hospital Chelsea! Since this year the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was postponed, in addition to last year’s show being cancelled, we thought it would be a good idea to bring cheerfulness and beautiful flowers to Chelsea pensioners!
Our visit took place on the 20th of May - during the original Chelsea Flower Show. As Jens previously said, May is the month of Chelsea - and we couldn’t accept otherwise. We have chosen more than one peony because we had planned plenty of activities for that special day! It was an amazing experience - more details below!
The first of the three peonies in this month's edition was peony "Command Performance" chosen by our Master Florist - Jens Jakobsen. He created a special wreath later placed on the Hospital grounds to honour the fallen. In his design, the red peony was a substitute for red poppies usually associated with the Pensioners.
Jens created the wreath in his new garden - you can see it in the video here. Together with Siyuan, they took the beautiful red-green wreath - which was surprisingly heavy - and brought it to the Hospital.
In the hospital, the team met with the staff that helped us with the project - Alex Stewart, and Ric Glenn, who is the Royal Hospital Grounds Manager. We also had the honour to meet with two lovely and kind Chelsea Pensioners - Barbara and John. We were delighted to hear about their life in the Royal Chelsea Hospital, including how they have their own allotments in Hospital gardens they care for, and how the nature in the Hospital grounds provided them with solace during the most severe phase of the lockdown.
We brought the wreath to the memorial area in Cadogan Court, and Barbara and John placed it there for us.
Seven of "Buckeye Belly" peony plants were donated by Binny Plants and brought by Heath and Billy all the way down from Scotland! Buckeye Belle is a semi-double peony which attracts bees and butterflies.
The "Peony of the Month" team - Jens, Heath, Billy and Siyuan - as well as Ric and the Pensioners - Barbara and John, planted the plants in the memorial area, waiting for them to bloom in June.
Buckeye Belle plant - soon to blossom
The whole planting process was streamed live on Instagram - if you want to revisit it, it was saved in this video. We hope that the peonies will please the eyes of pensioners for the years to come!
"Sonoma Velvet Ruby"
This Chat Show episode was a unique and moving experience. We are really grateful for the fact that we were able to come together in person in the stunning surroundings of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.