Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The buying season begins...

The Sock turned down the wrong street outside Victoria Station and got lost in the short distance to the RHS Horticultural Halls. Eventually a passing taxi driver took pity on her and for a fiver drove her round the block to where she was meeting Ms. B. "You should have followed the hordes of little old ladies heading here" laughed Ms. B. The hordes were by this time stretching in a long line queueing back from Lawrence Hall so we hotfooted it over to Lindley in order to do our bit of spending to help the credit crunch.

A fabulous display of Spring flowers greeted us as we entered the hall. The Sock loves dwarf irises and has planted several varieties in pots outside the kitchen patio doors. Every morning 'mummy's precious puss-babies' rush out and nibble the long shoots off them! Narsty horrid cats! If they have spoilt mummy's display they will be up for adoption.

Then the buying began - first a lovely libertia 'goldfinger'.

The Sock already has a load of the lucozade coloured libertia (assuming it has survived the frosts that killed her aeonium) but this was softer coloured and less spikey. No bulbs were bought as the Sock couldn't remember what she planted last year although it definitely included some of the exciting little expensive ones that you get in the individual paper and celophane packets with bits of wood shavings at Wisley garden shop. Ms. B. agreed that buying those made you feel important - like a connoisseur of fine bulbs.

The hepatica display proved irresistible though and a white and an 'unknown as yet colour' were added to the shopping. These will be planted in the Sock's little alpine display bed where they will flower this year and then probably die as the conditions are entirely wrong for them. Nevertheless they will still have been worth it.

Some fabulous hellebores - very tempting but the Sock has nowhere to put them..

One of the stall holders confided that "Wesley Kerr was in last night!". Gutted to have missed him! (Is he the one who does Ready Steady Cook?)

We had been looking for 'best hat at show' and called the search off at this point as we had already seen the obvious winner!

On to Lawrence Hall which Ms B. (who lurksalot around the London Shows) informed was the venue used for the BBC trailer with the acrobats and red drapes!

Lawrence Hall is quite strange as at one end there is a raised area with seating lined-up to view the hall giving the mad feeling that those seated are the audience and that the rest of us are participating in a play like in 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie'.

The Sock found less to buy here although you will all be thrilled to know that she finally bought some twine! One of the stands had the same twine that Sarah Raven sells only cheaper, obviously. But what colour to choose? Was purple really going to look right in the garden? Then the solution presented itself - you can buy little bundles of three different colours! But what colours to choose? The Sock wanted a combination of colours that were in two different bundles so persuaded Ms. B. to quickly change the bundles around. The stand owner was very nice about it when he caught her doing it. The Sock now has a bundle of green, brown and beige twine - but wishes she had swapped the beige for the purple.

The displays included Urban Front Gardens (in light of the recent legislation where planning permission is required to pave over them) and balcony displays (presumably the RHS wanted to get their money's worth out of the balcony props they used at last summers London show).

Sorry the Sock didn't get information like who designed them etc. just not very good pictures as she had to use her pocket camera and people kept getting in the way.

First up a good balcony - smart design although not particularly the Sock's taste

Next a... um.. jolly balcony. I think it was called 'Gone for a leek' or something like that

Then a totally horrid design.. what were they thinking of? Hideous!

Next up the urban front gardens. First a very smart one but the Sock does worry about those vertical planting schemes keeping their shape for any length of time and in her experience prostrate rosemary grows all over the show..

Then a front garden designed by someone with bad SAD.. made us feel depressed just looking at it..

A jolly day out, a small haul but a welcome reminder of the therapeutic power of plant purchasing.


Ms B said...

You have written very eloquently about our little trip yesterday Arabella, & may I say how elegant you looked! The hepaticas were just like lots of delectable little sweeties & there we were with our noses pressed against the shop window! How good to be able to indulge in a little HRT.

Arabella Sock said...

Ms B! I am so jealous! Your picture has one of those nice headpieces we discussed. The ones I said I was too old to wear, didn't have anywhere to wear them to and might look a tad silly with one perched on my head whilst watching Corrie of an evening.

These were the ones I tried on at the Design Fair, the appropriately named


a passing elderly gentleman said I looked very lovely in it. I thought this one might be fun too


I really wish I'd bought one now. Perhaps I'll order one today and sit at my computer with it on.

VP said...

I went yesterday and had a fab time. Weren't those Hepaticas gorgeous?!

Tee hee - you've called The Garden's balcony hideous! I loved the leek one. I'm glad you've shown the balcony with the layered bit at the front - I and my companion actually liked that bit, but I forgot to photograph it for my show and tell, so I'll just point everyone in your direction.

I very nearly got carried away at show sell off time - only 6 carrier bags of plants to manoevre onto the Tube during the rush hour. Lots of bargains! Including that lovely iris at the front of your photo.

Arabella Sock said...

Is that The Garden as in the RHS Garden magazine garden? I'm sure I read somewhere that the RHS people were scared of doing an exhibit in case it got badmouthed! Ha ha! They were right to be scared. It reminded me of that old Morecambe and Wise piano piece joke "they were the right notes but not necessarily in the right order".

VP said...

Yep the very same magazine and I read that rumour too!

On the whole I thought the balcony gardens were much better than the ones at The Inner Temple show, what did you think?

Have just popped in to nab the link to your post - ta.

Arabella Sock said...

Yes I did think they were good and the urban front gardens too apart from the two exceptions I've mentioned. I also liked the garden with the blue light strips although I wasn't sure how annoying they might get after a while.

I have a vague memory of the RHS at Wisley running a competition for people to design tiny front gardens about 8ft by 8ft. There were some on show in the plant shop there I remember one was shaped like a postage stamp of the Queen. Anyway they ought to do a balcony design competition for the public.

Arabella Sock said...

PS. I meant to say VP that I am a bit jealous of your 6 bags of swag. I only nabbed 3 and put the twine straight in my handbag to save on bags.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Argh, stop showing me Irises! I've just broken out in an Iris rash and it's not pretty and it itches!

Those Hellebores are droolworthy.

Love the snowdrop hat. Did you ask for the knitting pattern? If not, why?

VP said...

I agree re the balcony competition. I think it's probably one of the toughest design briefs to do. A tiny space, what to do with the verticals etc etc. And so easy to get so very wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's a very good entry point for people wanting to get into design/show gardens etc. too - not too big a budget to worry over.

Perhaps they should wheel out the balcony display at all the flower shows.

I'm showing off my swag tomorrow...