After repeatedly scaling the heights in football, José Mourinho is now odds-on favourite to win the coveted Best in Show award at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show with his showpiece, The Special Garden.
Described as not especially attractive to look at, even utilitarian, the garden nonetheless drew in the judges before overwhelming them with its quality and organisation. As one said, every plant has its place and works hard for the garden, and the overall effect is irresistible. A gold medal seems inevitable, with the top prize likely.
Featuring tightly packed box hedging, with a centrepiece of fir trees in a characteristic 4-3-2-1 formation, the garden is remarkable for its quintessential Italian style while not featuring a single Italian plant. While another entrant, Lights and Colours of the Alps, features Italian ‘mountains’ made of glass, the one piece of hard landscaping in The Special Garden is a scale model of Everest, with Mourinho on the peak wearing a navy suit.
Mourinho said he loved Chelsea Football Club and would always have friends there, so it was fitting that he should rub their noses in it by showing just how broad his talents were. He confirmed he would now be leaving Italy for Spain, possibly to run both Real Madrid and the city’s famous Royal Botanical Gardens at the same time, but said he hoped eventually to return to England, where he hoped to plunder what he called the best nursery system in the world.
In a surprise announcement it was disclosed that Steven Gerrard was planning to enter a garden in next year’s show, with an entry provisionally entitled Out There on the Park, but he said that any plans were on hold until after the World Cup. He said, ‘I drove myself mad thinking about Chelsea at Euro 2004 – I won’t make that mistake again.’