Monday, 9 July 2018

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018

So, here we were, on the very first day of the show.

It's an exciting time in the gardening world. We prefer Hampton Court to Chelsea, as the latter is, to put it plainly, a little 'Knobby'

We had battled an M3 jam, but arrived in East Molesey in perfect time to have a coffee, before getting the boat that would take us to this years show. It was the first for Rebecca, and we hoped that it would inspire her, and not come across as just a 'trade show' or such like.

The emphasis this year was distinctly more on the retail outlets, of which there were many, but very unique and enticing. Although there were some 40 garden designs on display, most were fairly small, and consisted of very predictable 'fluffy' summer planting. It would seem that garden designers have ceased to take any real innovative chances.

One exhibit that caught my eye consisted of a rusty metal box, that when entered, shocked with an interior of mirrored walls, and a path that was flanked by flower meadows (all be it on a small scale). Not something that one would want to have in their own garden to come home to and relax with a beer at the end of a hard days work, but a unique idea.

We held back on the spending, as we wanted to see just what was on offer. An idea to replicate these ribbons in our Acacia trees was agreed upon.

One garden design, 'Brilliance in Bloom', designed by Charlie Bloom, was a little busy for our taste, but like most designs, had aspects that we liked. The mosaic in the floor was good, and the water feature was something that we have to have. We have been looking for a water feature like this, that we can both agree upon. Amanda prefers more contemporary designs, and I like things more along the lions head spewing water, or a tiered rock effect. This satisfied both of us, and we have since been in touch with Charlie Bloom and are going to try and get one.

The three of us scrutinised each design as we came upon them. Rebecca didn't like the bold yellow backdrop of this one. I did, and all made for some interesting discussion.

The detail in these rusty panels was beautiful (it would appear that I have a 2018 'Rust Thing' going on. If you can magnify the image, you may hopefully appreciate the detail even more.

Rotating pods, what can I say. Amanda and Rebecca like them, I could be persuaded, but not for £9000.00

Lunch was a simple affair. Sandwiches, crisps, and a bottle of Moet, taken by the cooling fountains on the lake.

This sculptors work was a little unsettling, but pulled us in nonetheless. I particularly liked this one, but couldn't face him in my garden of a morning.

It was a hot day, 30 degrees, and people wandered about slowly. No rushing. 

My own personal favourite garden design was by Rosemary Goldsmith. 'Best Of Both Worlds' was a design that could actually be adapted to any garden. It's described as being split into two halves, for two very different people. Jack and Sam, but I saw it as a very well proportioned quadrant, with each section offering something specifically different depending on ones mood. A low seating area around a table with a fire installation in the middle, for cool days with friends. Another area that had a cold pool surrounded by slabs, where one could relax on a hot day, with a book, thoughts, or in pleasant company.  A third area, with a simple table and a couple of chairs, for morning coffee, and/or a glass of wine at the end of the day. The fourth and final section had a simple pot water feature, that brought a gentle and peaceful sound to everything. Stand by it, stare at it, and think, if ones mind can allow.

The hands were very nicely made, and very tactile, but not sure what I would do with them. I did like them. Maybe in a border somewhere?

This glass panel designer is always here, and we always make a beeline to see what's the latest on offer. Seriously good work, seriously good prices, but one day we will have a shower screen made like this!

My overall verdict on the garden designs on display?  Lacking, safe, and sometimes concentrating far more on a 'message', than on what it is to be a garden that someone could enjoy in it's own right, and for themselves.

We didn't enter the vast area where plants were for sale. I think Amanda took pity on me, and decided that time was too short. We did however settle on this huge Buddha. Beautiful colouring, we had been after one, and picked it up for a snip. It was heavy, but that's the price of love. Further love was called upon for all of the ridicule I took when boarding the boat, and the bus to the park and ride. But it was worth it.

The girls toasted it with a couple of cocktails before we left. Appropriate? Don't care. It's a stone head.

And he looks rather good at the end of our garden!

Monday, 11 June 2018


Friday evening is when we are invited into the home of our Pilates instructor. We planned it for the end of the week, so that any lumps, bumps and aches can be pin pointed and sorted. May/June in general are when everything starts to grow, and we have to seriously shift up a gear. 

It's also a time when the plant world is at it's most beautiful. We get to work in some of the most wonderful garden spaces in the area, and spend lunch breaks along some of the most stunning coastline in the UK.

Our clients afford us the freedom to pretty much do as we please in their gardens, and in return, we have hopefully crested some places for them to find a similar kind of peace.

Next week we take a 'works' trip to Mottisfont, to see their rose collection. Amanda and I have seen it before, but Rebecca has yet to take in a truly magnificent and historic rose collection. 

The following month is the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where new designs will be scrutinised, business contacts made, plants purchased, and champagne quaffed.

Life ain't so bad. The body is being worked on.......the mind, well, gardens kind of take care of that.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Several Zed's

Last week was a good week, filled with sunshine, beautiful places to work, sea breezes at lunchtime.
I was going to blog about that, but it will have to wait until tomorrow, as this weekend has also been good.

Apart from an excursion into Christchurch for some lunch on Saturday, our time has been spent........yes, gardening. This time in our own garden. We have bought new plants, some rare and exotic, and have tidied thing's in our own space up a bit. It's now 3pm on Sunday, and after a lunch at the end of the garden of various Italian meats, olives, breads and oils, I am indulging in a glass or two of one of my favourite Sicilian wines whilst continuing to read my latest book. I feel a nap coming on shortly!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Giardini della Villa Comunale

A large glass of good red wine, some excellent bruschetta, and a light lunch on a warm and sunny afternoon. 

A gentle stroll downhill along the Via Bagnoli Croci, and we turn along Via Roma, where the Mediterranean in all it's blue splendour opens up to our left.

The entrance to the public gardens is unassuming, and gives nothing away about what lies inside.

Built on the top of a cliff, it's an area of peace and tranquility, with trees providing some shade from the heat of the day.

The garden is the creation of a Lady Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman who, having had an illicit romance with Edward VII, found herself living here. She arrived in 1884, married the mayor, and set about creating these wonderful gardens.

I feel that she was a romantic at heart, as everything within this green space is exquisite. The intricate buildings, one used by her to bird watch, are testament to a feminine mind that had too many exciting ideas to express in the time it took to create them.

In 1922, she left them to the town, where they had to remain a place that was free to enter for anyone who cared to share in them.

We spent a long time here, holding hands and strolling, talking about these gardens and our gardens back home, with new vistas and points of interest around every corner.

Birdsong from the aviary, and the sound of running water from fountains add to the calming effect.

I think that Florence would have enjoyed what has become of it.

We are back at work now, but will hold this place dear to us.

Monday, 9 April 2018

My Body Is A Temple

The winter months have taken their toll on me. Work slows down, and as a result we get loads of time 'off'. I would like to say that this time is spent living healthily and wisely, but after nine months of manic gardening in the heat, with the stresses and time constraints involved, one does tend to collapse somewhat. My fitness and weight go up and down seasonally, and as I get older (57?....damn!), the body needs more and more of the good stuff, and less of the self indulgence. If I ever retire, then I look forward to loads of R and R, too much red wine and charcuterie, whatever bread I want to eat, and travel. For now though, I have to try to keep indulgences under control (always a problem), and self discipline in the fore (always a problem). 

Although it has proved to be useful in the past, I don't like the gym. Working out in an artificially lit room, awhile staring at a screen or blank wall isn't a good use of the valuable time that is my life as I see it. I much prefer to take energetic walks, cycle rides, or kayak trips, and that is about to happen....again. I am fairly fit, and have been told that I have unusual strength, especially for one my age, but I can feel things not so much stiffening up, but settling into place.

And so, on a Monday evening I am learning Chen Tai Chi (something I dabbled with some twenty years ago).
So far, all is going well. I have learnt that to stand on one leg whilst moving isn't as easy as it used to be, but am pleased with the core strength that I do have, and can appear to control the movements fairly well. The teacher has unusual control over his body. I think this may take some time.