Fashion isn't in the forefront of my mind when I step out to garden: a faded blue canvas jacket, my second best pair of welly boots. That's it. But a new exhibition at The Garden Museum in London, curated by Nicola Shulman and sponsored by Vogue, spins elegant connections between the two.
"Restez Zen", as the French say. Well, maybe not the ones who wrote my dictionary, which seems curiously quiet on the subject, but certainly the ones who composed my recent issue of Marie Claire. Chillax! they exhort us, as a rough translation. Keep your Zen topped up.
Like the sofas and side table in the sitting room, the flower garden at our place is furnished with some big things that mostly stay where they have been put: huge spurges, the fleshy arrow-shaped leaves of arum, fat clumps of monkshood and sea thistle. But among the set pieces, I use different annuals each year, to change the way the whole area looks.
In the middle of the night, hidden beneath the covers, I start laughing at the idea of anyone else finding out what I'm Googling. No, I'm not funding the dark web, I'm not streaming illegal stuff of any kind, I'm not even shopping for kittens; I'm soothing my troubled insomniac brow on frenchclick.co.uk, gazing at things formerly only purchasable in French supermarkets, now brought all the way across the Channel to my London front door – with no delivery charge on orders of more than £35. (More than £35? Pah. I can spend over £35 on biscuits alone in a French supermarket.)
Round our way, amateur versions of Gardeners' Question Time are a popular way of raising money for charity and from time to time I get to sit on the panel. "What tips would you give to a new gardener?" is a favourite question and more interesting than the usual queries about scrofulous bits of greenery. Answers depend very much on the panellist's own interests. And character.