Leading Article: Let a thousand flowers bloom

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The Independent Online

Ah, the heady scent of pampered blooms mingling with the heavy fumes from the traffic alongside the river without as, within, the thousands united by cracked fingernails move about like polite pinballs: yes, by my Titchmarsh, Dimmock and Don, it's the Chelsea Flower Show!

Which, on the face of it, is as mad an event as anything arranged by Carroll, especially now it's got so big in cramped SW3. Indeed, there are those who can't understand why it wasn't moved to an industrial park just within the M25 years ago. Much easier parking.

The more traditional and whimsical among us merely give thanks that it's still there, stout rus holding up a pair of open shears to creeping urbs, a source of gentle, informative entertainment that will become even rarer if they're going to start burning down the other ones. Poor old Cutty Sark.

Besides, with the seasons in disarray, we need Chelsea to remind us it's May. Who wouldn't miss, too, the reminder of days when the ultimate mark of celebrity was having a rose named after you?

I'd certainly be lost without the usual, stately rows about acceptable entries: they've banned bees this year, you know, too dangerous.

And then there's the other hardy annual, the enjoyable battle against that loveable old class warrior, the gnome. Ignore all other indicators: when they finally allow them into Chelsea, this will truly be a nation at ease with itself.

Not this year: "We have artistic things and nice taste in this show," said an official. "It's just not suitable for gnomes". Ah, well: that's saying it with flowers, I suppose.

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