The first casualty of my ridiculous schedule was the Floral Marquee, where I could happily have spent the entire day. As it was, I barely managed a couple of laps – having time to congratulate the very splendid Fibrex Nurseries for another double gold medal for their fabulous ferns and pelargoniums, all of which I wanted to buy, and many of which I’m sure I shall. There’s a mixture of fear and excitement when you find people who make a living out of tending, nurturing and selling the things which you crave. Enablers.
|Pelargonium sidoides, stunning, delicate, one of my absolute favourites|
|Just one of the ferns on my wishlist at Fibrex Nurseries|
|The photo really doesn’t do justice to these burnt orange shades|
Firstly, just to get them out the way, some of the less successful aspects. I really don’t like to linger on the bad points but there were a few, and blimey, there were some rough edges this year, notably a yew hedge which couldn’t decide if it wanted to be formal or unkempt, and a mass of Stipa tenuisima which had a bad case of bed hair – obviously, Stipa ten can do this, but if you’re going to use it as a key plant, it helps to get it right. Both of these mishaps were in the Your Garden, Your Budget section – formerly the Low Budget, High Impact gardens – but this area also hosted several of my favourite gardens, of which more later.
‘Plastic’ planting – a personal bugbear of mine – was also in evidence in places here as it was in Chelsea. I think it’s excusable on the equipment and furniture stands, although to be fair much of the planting around these is done with pleasing subtlety and complexity. I’ve been trying to identify just what it is that makes me look at a show garden and think, “Hmm. Plastic”. They all have in common a slightly sterile quality – too-perfect foliage – hedges of box and other evergreens with thick, waxy leaf cuticles, plants that look like they’ve just been popped into the ground rather than grown there, earth closing cleanly around the stems with nary a sign of disruption. Of course the plants have just been popped into the ground, but unless you’re creating a bedding scheme – which has its own rules – there’s an illusion that needs to be maintained with a show garden, and some artful scuffing up in places can go a long way.
|Planted, or plonked?|
|Picking nits, that central upright on the pergola makes this area really crowded|
|Transitioning from mid 20th century (left) to 70s (right) at this point|
How did I manage with my mission? True to form, I did get lost, and I did miss out at least two gardens. But not bad for three hours.
More photographs can be seen in the Facebook gallery here.