Lunch was at Petersham Nurseries which has recently gained a Michelin star. Not that we use the Michelin as our food bible any more but it does give a reasonable indication that the cuisine is a cut above the norm (and consequently so are the prices).
The food at Petersham was more than a cut above - starters were the stars with the sweetest of scallops for the Sock and a wonderfully fresh mozarella salad with shaved radishes and fennel drizzled with an exquisite olive oil for the Bedsock.
The restaurant is gorgeously informal an eclectic assortment of tables, chairs and plants within the glasshouse setting.
It did seem a shame that since the Socks last visit the nursery aspect of Petersham had been very much trimmed down no doubt to expand the café/restaurant area. The Bedsock drank the lemonade but a couple of glasses of wine put the Sock more in the mood for an afternoon nap rather than an 'Ask the Gardeners' talk at the London Wetlands Centre.
The question and answer session was interesting with Matthew 'Landscape Man' bringing his usual wit to the occasion. Not so sure about his attempt to be nice to a child by speculating that the brown patches on her lawn might suggest the remains of an old Roman settlement full of treasure underneath it. Also doubtful whether her parents will be impressed to find said child has called in Tony 'Baldrick' Robinson and the Time Team crew to dig up the entire garden.
Much of the talk was about Rain Gardening and we were told that Nigel Dunnett had trashed an existing sustainable show garden at wetlands designed by Cleve West ten years ago in order to construct a sustainable Rain Garden complete with bug hotels. There must be some irony in that.
Encouraging people to use plants that don't require much in terms of care and watering is fine if you can get hold of them at your local Wyvale or B&Q etc. It is these big chains that need to make the change instead of selling people plants that can't possibly thrive in local conditions. The Socks are prepared to drive around the countryside searching out small specialist nurseries for particular plants but that does nothing to reduce their carbon footprint.
Nigel Dunnett's suggestion that even the smallest garden could plant a tree as "global warming will mean that we all need shade" horrified the Sock whose first thought was "Not in my back yard". Our elderly neighbour planted what he described as a small tree right next to our dividing wall despite the Sock voicing her misgivings. The 'small' tree shot up and half of it overhung the Socks' small garden which meant we had to cut back and dispose of it at some trouble to ourselves. It looked absolutely horrible - half a tree - and took much of the pleasure away from the view of the garden the Sock had designed. When the roots started cracking our already crumbling wall the Socks had to put a lot of pressure on the neighbour to remove the tree which eventually he did but with much bad feeling.
The Sock feels that sustainability is not sufficient justification for anti-social gardening and that all gardeners should be aware of the impact on their neighbours when their planting encroaches on other people's light or space. There were certainly people in the audience who didn't share the Sock's view although this wasn't a subject explored at any length.
[On the subject of sustainability the Sock was annoyed to receive this hideous bit of unwanted junk with her Thompson and Morgan plug plant order.
Far from being pleased with this 'free' hanging basket of extremely poor quality the Sock was pissed off at having to find some way of disposing of it. What a ridiculous waste of resource on all fronts!]
An enjoyable afternoon though but only time for a quick wander around the Wetlands area itself. Sadly no picture of Landscape Man for you - you will have to make do with a duck* instead!
*picture from National Geographic