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Royal Horticultural Society
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Sunday 06 July 2008
Saturday 05 July 2008
A small exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, tucked quietly up in its north-west corner, was a landmark as far as show gardens are concerned. Entitled "More Questions Than Answers", the outline of a fallen figure in white roses with red petals for blood, questioned our obsession with Health and Safety laws, and the disparity between sending soldiers into conflict unprotected while not letting our children play conkers at school. Emotive, political, conceptual stuff, something the Royal Horticultural Society has been a bit nervous of in the past. The fact that Tony Smith managed to ensconce himself at an event that clearly didn't have a conceptual category suggests that they were beguiled by his triumph at Hampton Court last year where his garden "In Digestion" won Best in Show in the conceptual category. Needless to say it was a breath of fresh air – so Smith's exhibit this year at the Hampton Court Flower Show is eagerly awaited.
Sunday 22 June 2008
Friday 13 June 2008
Tuesday 20 May 2008
Saturday 17 May 2008
If adrenaline had a smell, you'd get a mighty whiff of it in the grounds of the Royal Hospital this weekend. Exhibitors at this year's Chelsea Flower Show depend on it for the next 48 hours as almost a year's planning reaches its zenith. At the Bupa Garden, we have until 8am on Monday morning to nip, tuck and titivate before the Royal Horticultural Society judges don their serious faces, examine their notes and pick any holes they can find before awarding the appropriate medals. Most exhibitors aim to finish their garden by close of play today. This will allow plants to settle and look all the more natural, rather than a scruffy, stuffed appearance that betrays nothing but panic. If the weather is kind in the final three weeks then a few might achieve this, but the reality is that most will work until the last possible moment – lest the rim of a pot, a faded bloom or leaking pond lose them vital points and the chance of a decent medal.
Monday 14 April 2008
With more than 200 acres of some of England's finest gardens, seven lakes, a historic rhododendron and a mob of 40 "semi-wild" wallabies, Leonardslee Gardens in Sussex are perhaps as eccentric as the family which has owned them for more than 150 years.
Sunday 24 February 2008
"There was always a joke around the nursery," says Caroline Wood of the business she started with her husband: "If it has bright, beautiful flowers on it, Trevor won't like it."
Saturday 23 February 2008
When the topiary specialist James Crebbin-Bailey ( www.topiaryarts.com ) showed me some pictures of a small front garden in Hampton, Middlesex, I could have kissed him. Fortunately for him, we were at an RHS event and someone had just started to make a speech, so puckering up and embracing in the middle of the Westminster Hall just wouldn't have been appropriate.
Sunday 17 February 2008
My attempts at indoctrination seem to be working: I've been taking a chilly group around the garden at Kew, making them breathe in and smell the winter flowers. "Ah," a friendly German man says, "I have always just looked around the garden with my eyes. I'm learning now to use my nose too."
Saturday 12 January 2008
It ain't necessarily so: if spring flowers are appearing remarkably early in your garden, it's not always because of climate change (although it may be).
Fuchsia perfect: A few years ago, if you'd have asked Anna Pavord what she thought of fuchsias, she would have given you short shrift. Nowadays though, she admires their hardiness and ability to charm in late summer
Saturday 22 September 2007
"I don't like principles," wrote Oscar Wilde. "I prefer prejudices." I don't actually prefer them (though it's often entertaining to be a devil's advocate), but can't pretend to be without them. Take busy lizzies. Well, there's the point. I never did take them. I've spent a whole life avoiding them. I've abused them in print. I've called them naff and worse.
Dahlia days: Autumn has come early this year, but there's one gloriously garish plant that's guaranteed to liven up even the drabbest of borders, says Emma Townshend
Sunday 16 September 2007
"Excuse me," says a lady visitor to Wisley, "can you show me the way to the dahlia test beds?" It's not your average Sunday afternoon out, but the idea of test beds is to see lots of different dahlias all in one place without the distractions of a garden to sway your decision-making. I was thinking of having a look myself, but got sidetracked enjoying the skill with which Wisley's gardeners have incorporated many of my favourite gaudy plants into their spectacular early autumn borders.
Saturday 23 June 2007
The sculptor Johnny Woodford once gave me the nickname "Reckless West". While I loved the punk era of the late Seventies/early Eighties (which fuelled an early desire to use shock tactics in gardens), my conservative dress code and pathetic constitution for drink or drugs failed to ignite the wild-child within.
Saturday 19 May 2007
The Chelsea Flower Show will be preening its feathers this weekend as exhibitors put the final touches to their creations, hoping for acclaim by way of a coveted RHS gold medal. Judges will be poring over the clients' briefs for each garden and making their own assessments (before judging begins in earnest on Monday) so they can be clear about the designers' intentions and make sense of gardens that have been conceived over a period of months, created in weeks and destroyed in days (or even hours). Their transient, theatrical nature is said to have no relevance to real gardens but John Sales, RHS judge and former Gardens Advisor for the National Trust, believes that our backyards have just as much, if not more, in common with theatrics than exhibits at flower shows.
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