March Meeting

Freelance journalist, Mandy Bradshaw, kicked off Cricklade Garden Club’s 2022 programme with some interesting insight behind the scenes on Press Day at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show.

Mandy, a writer for newspapers and magazines is a regular at Chelsea, where, laden with camera, notebook and guide book and dressed in full length waterproof and stout boots, she says it’s crucial  to decide beforehand what to cover. With over 60 photocalls approximately 10 minutes apart organised throughout the day and across the showground it’s impossible to cover them all.

With background pieces prepared in advance Mandy looks for something unusual to provide the newsworthy angle. With 20 years’ experience as a Cotswold- based garden journalist with a regular monthly feature for Cotswold Life, her focus is with anything linked to that area.

Sometimes it’s the garden that’s important, such as the Yeo Valley show garden designed by Tom Massey which was the first organic and peat-free garden at Chelsea; sometimes the designer, such as Chris Beardshaw, Paul Hervey-
Brooks or herb queen Jekka McVicar. Sometimes a celebrity is doing something interesting such as when Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen launched a rose appropriately named ‘Frilly Cuffs”, on other occasions a sponsor, constructor or sculptor may be in the spotlight. Mandy says it’s important to think laterally to get the local link such as writing about a new rose called ‘Highgrove’.

A September Chelsea with its different range of plants meant Mandy was able to highlight growers such as specialist Penstemon nursery GreenJJam.

The overriding benefit of attending Chelsea on Press Day is that it’s largely empty, making it possible to walk onto gardens, look at the details and chat with people; Mandy says the Chelsea pensioners along with models and celebrities, love to pose for a photograph!


Mandy has her own blog called ‘thechattygardener’