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It was Ian, staunch defender of the RHS - that hallowed heaven of all things horticultural - who said that we should broaden our horizons and not reject a garden without plants. Blimey. Post-Chaucerian treble negative apart I enjoyed this radical sentiment from the editor of The Garden.
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The Coach and Horses is an innocuous name for the Soho pub where reputations and livelihoods are regularly made and destroyed. Jeffrey Barnard was regularly unwell here along with Francis Bacon, Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan. And then there were the Private Eye lunches.
Which is why Andrew Fisher Tomlin chose the pub for last night’s ThinkinGardens http://www.thinkingardens.co.uk/mission.html’s first salon/debate. I was expecting the C&H’s usual informed debate involving F words, flying fists and alcohol-sodden bodies being loaded into taxis. I imagined Ian Hodgson, illustrious editor of The Garden, being removed by the police after outraging Soho with his views on hardy plants.
Chairman Stephen Anderton, whip in hand, kept everyone well disciplined: frisson without the fighting.
Is it possible to have a garden without plants?
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Tom Hoblyn's Iris and pitcher plants
Prowling round the gardens after hours on Wednesday with Lila Das Gupta, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hayley Monkton (who appears looking blonde and gorgeous on the RHS Chelsea website), Bob Sweet and other luminaries I fell back in love with the show.
What a way to show off or w***** wave as a learned friend put it.
But this year the Big Budget Boys had some worthy shoestring rivals like Sarah Eberle’s four gardens at £15, 000 all in. And Marshalls’ excellent down-to-earth gardens by Ian Dexter – ditto Mark Gregory’s.
Showing off doesn’t have to be expensive although Chelsea still needs the really swanky stuff - like Tom Hoblyn's Foreign and Colonial Investments garden and Laurent-Perrier's sublime creation...and Ulf's. But it's great to see that lot swirled in with a bit of bite and irony from Sarah Eberle, the Plastercine garden and the Quilted Velvet Garden.
As darkness fell we moved into the pavilion and came across late night voodoo from the floral art people – flower arrangers – who are doing Flamboyant Hats. Some had driven down from the north after spending days weaving pansies, Strelitzia, bamboo, lilies into headpieces worthy of Ladies’ Day at Ascot or the Amazonian rainforest.
The whole thing's barmy and brilliant and I love it.
Above:Dean Stalham who write the poem for the Eden Project garden.
Below: Yet another luscious garden by Jekka
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http://www.topgear.com/us/the_show/bios/james_may. And then justifying the otherwise unjustifiably non-living garden by awarding a Plastercine medal. Just one criticism of the otherwise unimpeachable RHS: why bang on about getting children into gardening and then ban small children from Chelsea? I suppose they leave the under fives to enjoy the hooligan tendencies of the Hampton Court Flower Show. http://www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/shows/hamptoncourt2009/.
I feel that this is an issue Garden Monkey http://thegardenmonkey.blogspot.com/200 ... htmlshould address. S/he was in the Gardening Matters tent when James are I were (in theory) in charge. Still don't know who it is. Guesses in the comment box please. In the meantime I will try to persuade The Monkey, who is too busy to do much of his/her blogging s/he says, to guest blog here.
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