Guest blog from Victoria Summerley
I have a guilty secret: I am a terrible sucker for feminine clutter. You know the kind of thing - bottles of bath foam decorated with reproductions of Edwardian French soap labels on them. Vintage tins bearing pictures of kittens sitting in baskets of roses. Retro metal signs from American diners that say things like "Cupcakes" or "Hot Dogs". Chintzy lavender bags with satin ribbon bows. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately, depending on your point of view and personal taste - I don't live in the sort of house that suits clutter. My house looks best when tidy: its 1930s lines suit a streamlined decor. So while I have pictures and books (boy, do I have books) and so on, they are not jumbled about the place in charming disorder. They are squared away in bookcases or lined up on walls. (At least, that's the plan.)
It's the same in the garden. I love roses, and herbaceous borders, and cottage flowers, but I just don't have that sort of backyard. Mine is a macho jungle, full of plants that need stern treatment to keep them in order. It's more Indiana Jones than Cath Kidston. Most of the time I love it, but there are odd moments when I wish I had honeysuckle round the door and a profusion of pink and purple in the borders.
These girly-garden moments tend to come upon me most forcibly at Hampton Court Flower Show. The show is popular with gardeners because you can buy plants (unlike at Chelsea). What you may not realise is that you can also buy every kind of twiddly-widdly, flower, flouncy garden accessory you can possibly think of.
Want a fairy in among the fennel? No problem. A plaque saying 'Home Sweet Home' above the hydrangeas? Sorted. A bird bath with cute baby buntings to go beside the bubble fountain? Certainly, madam. A metal thing shaped like a heart (purpose unclear) with a glass 'jewel' on top? Your wish is my command.
I find myself wandering wistfully round, gazing at an endless array of painted benches, floral ceramic pots and seed trays decorated with - yes, you guessed it - Edwardian French soap labels. It's strange because when it comes to clothes, I am the least frilly, floral person you can imagine. I don't even wear colours much.
In the end, my aching feet usually bring me to my senses and I stride off purposefully to look at something useful or educational. But by that time I've usually succumbed to some piece of nonsense on this occasion a metal plaque that says 'I dig gardening'. Well, at least it's black and white. Now where did I put my safari jacket and desert boots?
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