We miss-timed our holiday by a couple of weeks (in my opinion not my wife's) a few years ago while visiting the UK and back-packing around Europe, and didn't get to see any of the spectacular gardens on display. I did however, get to see a wall at the back of the Royal Hospital Grounds, as we got lost on the way to IKEA - but that's sadly as close as I've come.
I've developed this slight crush on Chelsea, because (judging from photo's only, mind you) you get to see what can be done, with a lot of imagination and similar quantities of cash. I'm sure that very few of the gardens are long-lasting, or could be easily transferred into a real-life garden. But Chelsea's gardens set a standard, and in some cases push the limits of what gardens could be in an ideal world.
So every year, I scour the internet for pictures, vicariously appreciating the gardens from 11000 miles away. But I console myself with the thought that in most cases the actuality of something isn't what you've built it up to be, and judging from my friend Viv's experience, it can be painful too.
She also wrote a story for the Times, in which she talks about how the budget's were pruned back this year, but that designers were taking a positive approach, and showing ways to garden on a small budget and recycle where possible.
I've also found some great pictures of Chelsea by Robert McMillan from Garden Focus.
So I guess another year goes by that I didn't get to visit Chelsea for myself, but so what...at least I have those amazing ice trays from IKEA!