I think I have saved the best 'til last. Below are pictures of the gardens that for one reason or another keep popping into my mind.
This shows part of the Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Arne Maynard. I loved the pleached copper beech, and the pale limestone path mixed with the abundance of planting. In the bottom left of this picture there is a Rosa 'Reine des Violettes' that has been trained over an Hazel cage. I expect to see a lot of these when I next return to England. I heard every group standing by the garden remark on the cage of roses and people seem to immediatley spot them in this photo, which definately doesn't capture their laid back elegance. If you see that part of the garden and think 'where's the water feature?', well it was around the edge in the form of a rill, filled with light coloured pebbles and the odd pinky, copper pebble, perfectly placed. Ahh, Chelsea.
Next up, Andy Sturgeons arts and crafts inspired garden. the centrepiece was definately the copper 'energy wave' sculpture which wound it's way through the garden and pool. Topiary was a feature this year and you can see the Ilex crenata balls here, Arne Maynard had Buxus and Cleve Wests Taxus below. If you plan to entertain on a Summers evening..
..this wall is hollow and becomes a light box at night casting soft beams of light through the holes. with white, scented plantings, I would imagine that it would attract every moth for miles around to 'add to your viewing pleasure'.
Cleve West received best in show (for the second year running) for the Brewin Dolphin Garden
I think this garden seems typically English, at first glance very formal and snobbish and then the realisation that it's very relaxed and welcoming (1. I've lived here long enough to know what you Americans think of the English and 2. I know what the English are really like, because I am one and therefore have a lot of experience of such things).
The planting was a similar mix of formal Yew topiary and relaxed perennial planting of whites, and lime greens with the bright red of poppies for added zing.
Nigel Dunnett's 'Blue Water Garden' was an absolute stunner.
The planting combined a mix of meadow plants from Europe and N. America and the water feature is designed to maximise water usage to the plants and minimize run off wastage. The pavilion is inspired by traditional buildings in the Puglia region of Italy. The dry stone roof was constructed on site, just for the week, out of tons (14 if I remember correctly) of stone. Ahh Chelsea.
I think the 'Blue Water garden' and Cleve West's garden were my favourites, from a very personal point of view that I can imagine myself in those gardens, paddling in the collecting pools of 'Blue Water' or reading on the grass in the Brewin Dolphin Garden.