Two Shows for the Price of Two – Part 2

IMG_5631Here’s an idea; get hundreds, possibly thousands of people in the gardening business, several huge tents, a load of land, every outside catering van known to man and some show gardens. Add gazillions of people and get them to pay for every step of their day and hey presto, you have an RHS garden show at Hampton Court.

Up until now we had had very little to do with the RHS. By the end of the day we had joined the RHS, had an RHS shopping bag and were marvelling at how much cash they must turnover. This is big business. Following on from Gardener’s World Live, we had made a promise NOT to buy any plants today. How would that pan out I wondered? It was the last day, the big sell off day. All the stands were offering their display plants for sale, 3 for £10, 4 for £10, 5 for £10. It got better as the day went on.

But no, we are made of sterner stuff. That and the fact that I couldn’t find the right shade of Achellia or any corydalis, at all. Instead we made a visual shopping list.

We paced ourselves and took plenty of breaks but eventually our heads hurt from the total overload of colour, beauty and new ideas. Thankfully there were plenty of places to sit down and do some serious people watching.

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We spent some time looking at the concept gardens and discussing their place in a garden show. Glenn was of the opinion that they appeared to have very little to do with horticulture and I had to agree. What they did show was how utterly crazy you can be with some bits of hard landscaping. It was the couture of gardening; horti – couture. Do you see what I did there?

Once we had taken as much conceptual thinking as we could handle for a day we looked around the other show gardens. The front gardens were of particular interest as we had entered a design ourselves back in March. Obviously we didn’t win but we appreciated the variety of the winning gardens which surprisingly had many similar elements to our design. The planting themes for this year certainly seem to be grasses and floaty, delicate dotted flowers in speckled and multicoloured frothing. All very wispy and dreamlike.

By the afternoon we had run out of cash and determined not to pay to withdraw any more we skulked around making sure we had seen everything. We agreed we had seen as much as we could handle and so escaped into the grounds of Hampton Court which in itself was a blissful experience. The sun had come out and we found two deck chairs. Time for some snoozing.

The drive back home was a chance to chat and dissect the ideas we had seen. It had been a wonderful day and one that we would carry with us as we enjoyed a whole year of visiting RHS gardens. We panned to make Wisley our next trip. However, our biggest inspiration for our next major project was to come from an unexpected place.

Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; The Good Life gone Wild

 

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A Marriage Made in Salisbury

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The dust had settled on our garden after the frenzy of filming and all the excitement of working to a tight schedule. Of course, we had another deadline to meet, October 24, our wedding day. It had started out as a rather cavalier claim by Glenn that it would be nice to have something from the garden on the table at our reception but we now found ourselves in an unexpected position. It was September and the garden was looking incredible. Neither of us had ever experienced this before and we realised that not only would we have our own flowers on the table but I would be able to make bouquets for myself and my daughters and Glenn and his children would have buttonholes. Timing was tight but we fed, watered and dead headed often and things were looking very, very healthy.

In a way it was a shame that our reveal day hadn’t been a month later as the garden really settled into itself. The rudbeckia went mad as did the nasturtiums. Roses bloomed, asters finally did their thing. The calendula took hold and the euphorbia and pelargonium from Sarah Raven did us proud. There were some surprises too, sweet peas in October and thankfully the very late sown cerinthe came into flower the week before the wedding.

My plan was to cut all the flowers we needed two days before, in the evening. I had to condition everything and then plunge the lot into water to have a long, cool drink. There were buckets and vases everywhere. The table decorations were made two days before as they were delivered to our venue in advance, crossing my fingers that it didn’t all wilt. The bouquets were tied the night before and given their final ribbon hand holds on the morning whilst I stuffed a croissant down me, waiting for my rollers to take hold.

The crazy thing was that despite us cutting all the flowers for our big day, the garden looked untouched. As if it had happily yielded as much as we needed and then filled in all the gaps. We wandered around every night after work, in the dark sometimes, just breathing it all in. It grew and wouldn’t give up. All the digging, weeding, soil improving, feeding, dead heading, staking, caterpillar ‘removal’, snail ‘cleansing’ was paying off and mercifully, no frosts. This was the best bit. This was better than anything we had ever done.

October 24 was here. Glenn had spent the night before away from home with his family, my family had arrived and we had eaten, drunk, laughed and danced. And now the hairdresser was here and I was fiddling with flowers in the kitchen and getting ready to get married. Glenn had taken the buttonholes with him with instructions to keep them in water and before we knew it, it was time.

Ever since Glenn had proposed to me in Salisbury cathedral, in the chapel of St Edmund, with a ring he bought from the gift shop, we had been looking forward to this day. We had planned a very quiet, very personal day and as exciting as it was, I for one was super calm. No nerves, just huge joy and certainty that I was marrying one heck of a man. Oh and that we had some pretty damn beautiful flowers too. So sit back and enjoy some floral highlights.

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So there we are, married and off on honeymoon to a surprise location which turned out to be the Lake District, staying at The Belsfield Hotel which is code for WOW. We did of course manage to buy a car load of bulbs which strictly speaking were a little late for going into the ground but what the heck, everything we had planted this year had been late and yet had turned out fine in the end.

Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea;  Our Big Dream Just Got Bigger