One of my top gardens at this year’s show is Kate Gould’s garden with its inspired use of recycled materials. Flattened washing machine drums wrought into a wall panel, a deconstructed shopping trolley and bed springs used as screens, corrugated iron fences, and bits of boiler pipe used as bench supports. It’s not romantic or rustic, but it is really inspiring to see recycled materials used in such a well-crafted manner.
In amongst the commercial stands on Eastern Avenue there’s a rather charming display of plants, each one encased in moss balls. I particularly loved this daisy. I would like to tell you more about them, but the Japanese men who were manning the stall were charming but spoke little English.
I don’t think it was just the flat light, grey skies and chilly temperatures that gave the show quite a subdued feel. Of course, it was not helped by our never-arriving spring that has left many of the show gardens with flowers on the point of unfurling, but seemingly as reluctant to open as I was to remove any of the several layers of clothing I was wearing on Press Day. There was much loveliness though, some of which can be seen in these images.
A couple of signs that summer might finally be heading this way. The mulberry tree is budding up – 25 years ago an elderly French gardener told me this never happens until after the last frost – and he has yet to be proved wrong – and the swifts have arrived. I saw them overhead this morning.
As someone with a profusion of both types of bluebell in my garden I’m very familiar with the differences between them. The native bluebell carries its flowers down one side of its stem which gives the flower heads their characteristic droop, while the Spanish bluebell is sturdier and more upright with the flowers on all sides of the stem. The wild bluebell is also sweetly scented while the Spanish type is unscented. There has been concern over recent years that the two would hybridise readily and gradually overwhelm our woodlands, but the RHS reports that this might not be as serious a problem as was feared. Various scientific bodies, including The Natural History Museum are researching the problem and although there is still much work to be done, initial findings indicate they may not hybridise as readily as was feared. In my garden, I have found that by pulling out the Spanish bluebell stems before they set seed and leaving the native ones alone, I now have more of the latter than the former.