Thursday, 28 July 2011

Flight of the Beardibums

At last! The truth can be revealed of what really happened at RHS Chelsea Flower show...

speakers on everybody!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bold, Beautiful and Bloody!


Bright and beautiful mixed border at RHS Wisley

Last weekend the Sock and pal Lazy Trollop went to wonderful Wizzers for a talk by James Alexander-Sinclair.  Although the Sock has seen James 'perform' on several occasions he has always been hosting an event or strutting his 'Three Men Went to Mow' stuff (latest very funny video here) so the Sock was looking forward to actually hearing James' musings based on his book  '101 Bold and Beautiful Flowers'. 

The talk started at 10.30 a.m with a cup of tea but sadly no biscuits!!! There was definitely a slight rumble of empty tummies echoing around the hall not least from the Lazy Trollop sat next to me.  The talk commenced and James was as entrancing as expected, holding the audience in his thrall with his passion and wit..... all, that is, except for Mrs. Starchyknickers of Surrey at the back who suddenly broke in with  "I have NEVER heard so much swearing in a talk before!" uttered in a tone of whining prissiness. Crumbs! We hadn't even got to the 'stems entwined like the limbs of lovers enjoying a post-coital cigarette' bit!  All James' had said was that forsythias are horrible and we should get rid of the bloody things!   James handled the heckler with aplomb! He hardly missed a beat, apologising sweetly like a slightly chastened schoolboy. Then he carried on smoothly with a talk that perhaps lacked the more X-rated similes some of us have come to hope for!

Clic on the pic to enlarge

The talk continued until 12.00 at  which time we were told that James would also walk us around part of the gardens explaining where some of the planting principles had been put into action.  This was an unexpected bonus and after a pleasant lunch (and an enormous slice of Wisley Banana cake which was so big LazyTrollop and the Sock shared) a small group of us (sans Mrs. Starchyknickers) set off for a jolly jaunt around the borders.

First stop the new Rose Garden designed by Robert Myers.  The Sock isn't usually so bothered about roses - there is a formal rose garden recreated in a nearby park which is slightly tedious - but here the roses have been planted close together in blocks of colour and it will be interesting to revisit next year when the scheme has had chance to establish.  Now the main attraction for the Sock is the bold drifts of colour from the herbaceous plants.  The fabulous dark blue Agapanthus at the front is 'Taw Valley'.

On to the Piet Oudolf borders running downhill to the lake and Glasshouse.  At first sight from the top these don't look particularly impressive but on inspection we found the most exquisite planting schemes.  

Echinops abounded and this one 'Veitch's Blue' is a must for the Sock's front gravel garden.  Note the lovely little ladybird enjoying it too

It looked stunning against the glowing silver of the eryngium

Drifts of echinacea pulled the eye across the borders running in a snaking stream down to the lake

You do need to be a bit careful at Wisley there are some very odd people about...


The talk and walk cost £20 for members (more for non-members) and included a voucher for £5.00 to spend in the Plant centre.  Anyone who can visit Wisley without spending at least £10 in the plant centre must be a model of absolute restraint! 

The talk wasn't full by any means and the Sock wonders if the price (the RHS set) put people off, particularly as the details on the RHS site and even on the day were a bit vague as to what was included.  Several people mentioned they might have gone had it been cheaper although at that point they didn't know the walk was included.  As a bit of market research perhaps readers could comment on this? Given we hadn't expected the walk and would have been happy to pay for the talk alone, the Sock felt we got a lot of James A-S for our money! (Actually the Sock and the Trollop also got treated to tea and a cake afterwards but don't tell the others as they'll be jealous!)

All in all a very good day out.  Also worth mentioning that the Sock didn't realise that there was a whole series of talks and events going on at Wisley and will be enrolling on one of the photography days later in the year.  Perhaps the RHS needs to look at the way it publicizes these things in order to bring them to more members attention?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Green steals the Scene - RHS Hampton Court II


The Sock realises you have probably had it up to here with Hampton Court by now but this isn't going to stop me posting some more thoughts and pictures.  There is no point in taking a load of photos if I don't do something with them.   Talking of which, the Sock herself got mobbed by the paparazzi at the show..

There was something a bit familiar about them...

The Sock is also convinced that RdeT gave her the 'evils' when she snapped a few long lens photos of the GW team in the RHS Edible Garden.. 

The Sock honestly can't think what might have been done to offend..

Absolute favouritest garden at the show was Picturesque in the Conceptual category and in particular the  'Natural Spheres' display inspired by the Kandinsky's original paintings.  Love the way the alliums and agapanthus have been shaped and placed.

Alliums have had a great year and there are some fantastic varieties available - the Sock hadn't been sure about 'Forelock' until seeing these in the plant marquee.  An unusual shape and bronzey purple head looked like it had been sugar frosted!

There's no-one quite like Grandad... well actually according to the shrieks of one of the small children scattered around the show (who let them in?) David Bellamy looked exactly like his Grandad!  This might be just a fantasy - I'm sure we'd all like a Grandad who looked like David Bellamy.  DB was acting ambassador for Copella's Plant and Protect Campaign to protect English apple trees.

Not sure whether David Domoney had asked Anthea whatshername (who used to do breakfast TV) to be an ambassador for his garden

but as it was entitled the 'Naked Garden' and she once posed naked except for a python then it is a definite possibility.

Greens stole the scene at the show for the Sock who has invariably liked Tony Smith's designs. 'Diamonds and Rust' was no exception. Another Conceptual Garden billed as an horticultural installation it looked deceptively simple but the sculpted lines and colours were very pleasing.

Similarly, The World Vision Garden offered shapes that were strong, elegant and used in an original way.

Oooh look.. it's Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz enjoying the show... Don't these people ever do any work?

Everyone attending took this photo of the excellent  'Scuse me whilst I kiss the sky' garden and the Sock is no exception.

The Sock will leave you with the luscious greeness of a lettuce display..

 Just noticed there are a couple of strange people lurking in the background.  Surely that chap isn't wearing sunglasses on his head? Clic on the pic to enlarge...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Happy Heucheraholics

Hooray! Hooray! It's a Happy Heucheraholics Day!  At last Jooles and Sean got Gold for their stand at RHS Hampton Court plant marquee.

About time too.  The display looked lovely this year and there are only so many Silver Gilts you can take.  Perhaps Jooles and Sean had a premonition they might win as when I saw them, before the medals were announced, they had bought me a very appropriate prezzie with which to toast their win! (clic on the pic to read the wine label!)

I first met Jooles at Malvern 2009 when I was still an 'anonymous' blogger  before emerging from 'behind the Sock' to meet various gardening friends.  Whilst buying a heuchera to add to my collection I must have mentioned the fact that I blogged and Jooles replied "Oh - you're not that 'Gravy' woman are you?"  I nearly jumped out of my skin with astonishment! Suddenly my secret identity had been revealed!  Jooles said they were big fans of my bloggywog and I said I loved their heucheras and since then their happy, welcoming, faces and bright displays have added immensely to the pleasure of my visits to the various RHS shows.

And that is why the Sock is proud to be

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

RHS Hampton Court Show - The Perils of Pink


Pink Perils all stacked up at the RHS Hampton Court Flower show yesterday - waiting to be unleashed on the unsuspecting public on the opening day of the show!

Press day at Hampton Court yesterday and what a lovely day it was too.  There was a lot of pink. 

Pee Frog
The Control the Uncontrollable Garden aimed at people with an overactive bladder! This was particularly apposite for the Sock who had got stuck in long traffic jams on the way to Hampton Court and had for ages been 'bustin' for a piss'  as the phrase goes.  It had been touch and go as to whether the Happy Pee Frog (which the Sock keeps in her glove compartment) was going to be christened but a petrol station with toilets had appeared just in time. This was a huge relief as the Sock can't really see the Happy Pee Frog working 'in situ' particularly worrying as she had just had the Sockmobile valeted.

The next  proliferation of pink was the Conceptual Coppafeel garden designed by Hugo Bugg for the breast awareness charity.  The Sock can't help feeling that 'Coppafeel' is a slightly off putting name being reminiscent of builders yelling "Oi - cop a feel of this luv!" across the street in days gone by, before builders all became models of gentility and decorum.  Not entirely sure about the giant boobs either - although the ladies wearing them were doing a great job -  but if it helps raise awareness then perhaps one shouldnt' be too critical.

The Sock did like the interesting way the interior of the 'garden' photographed..

The LOROS Hospice Garden of Light and reflection was partially hot pink which was great if you like pink

and then partially not.. the sculpture at the front of the garden being softer textures and shades

neither part of the garden seemed to marry together at all. Two gardens crammed into one to the detriment of both.

The Sock feels a little mean criticising gardens that are for such good causes - the LOROS garden "aims to heighten the awareness of the therapeutic benefits of gardens and represents a segment of the LOROS hospice courtyard. A beautiful garden can help a patient come to terms with an incurable illness and provide a restful retreat for carers." But ultimately no matter how great the message, for the Sock it still wasn't a great garden.

The Sock definitely agreed with the message given by the Think! Cover Up  conceptual garden

about the dangers of skin cancer, the gravel and plants evoking a starkly hot environment with the trees giving shade protection to a standing sculpture. But with Pa Sock dying from it, Bro Sock having landed on the right side of the 50/50 terminal prognosis given for a skin cancer some years back and the Sock herself now paying the price of skin sun damaged in childhood... it was a little depressing. 

This is a flower show and the Sock began to feel a little bogged down with  so many themes of ill-health and bodily functions around.

Another invasion of pink with a partially pink orb garden room ruining an otherwise rather lovely Japanese garden.

The Sock wasn't terribly keen on any of the Poet themed gardens and the pink petunias in this don't do it any favours

Don't let these pinks make you believe the Sock got the blues at Hampton Court *groansatpun*.  The Sock had a fab time and will be blogging about the lovely Green stuff later on.