Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show

Last week, respite was sought and found from lectures with an evening visit to the exalted Chelsea Flower Show! This was my first visit here, and it was frankly dashed good fun. Nervous of the expected crowds we gingerly edged in to the grounds of the Royal Hospital after dinner at a nearby hostelry, and fortunately with the threat of wet weather hovering in the skies above we were quietly pleased to see hundreds of tired faces leaving in their droves. The rain failed to materialise, so we enjoyed a relatively quiet evening poking about the place and drinking in the pomp of this famous flower show. Although the show gardens are generally a bit too modern for my tastes, the monies involved put these design eggs at the coal face of experimentation, so it is always worth keeping an eye on what they get up! Happily, the theme this year seemed to be wildflowers and naturalistic planting, so there was inspiration to be had in all corners. I hope to return next year!
Strange golden baubles but very pleasant planting in Walkers’ Pine Cottage Garden

The Una Garreg garden showed a glorious level of detail, with plants creeping onto the paths and moss amongst the cracks

‘A Hebridean Weaver’s Garden’ was one of the most enjoyable sights of the show!

The cotton grass glory of Eriophorum angustifolium

Oriental mayhem in the Tokonoma Garden

Angelica archangelica, and the East Village Garden

The floriferous grids of the Telegraph Garden

Chris Beardshaw’s amazing garden for Arthritis Research UK!

Aside from a somewhat unfortunate rusty circle, this was the show garden that I enjoyed the most; the M&G Centenary Garden as designed by Roger Platts

More of this wonderful garden

The marquee displays provided no end of joy, this Allium, Nectaroscordum and Eremurus display was by Devine Nurseries, Yorkshire

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Conservative estimates place the garden at a fortnight behind the usual display, but certain areas seem more like four weeks away from the glory that one might normally expect. Regardless of this there is joy and wonder to behold in all corners of the garden, and a combination of a warm and cool spell has brought on or prolonged certain displays! Unfortunately through all of this excitement we find ourselves trapped in the classroom, as the annual three month lecture block grinds on. But we take heart and feel inspired by the floral gems being discovered each day, and the magnificent views revealed in a garden with such beautiful maturity.

The unfurling splendour of Cornus nuttallii x florida

Cornus blooms open out into large white buttons, as seen here with C. ‘Ormonde’

Down by the river long swathes of Cow Parsley and Camassia have suddenly erupted!

In the Queen’s Garden, an arch of Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ begins its extravagant display. Such features later offer the additional benefit of dappled shade during the summer sun

The intense colours of the fresh foliage and stems of Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’

Kew holds an extensive Fritillary collection, this gem is Fritillaria reuteri

A cheery but unknown late-flowering species of Narcissus

From Asia, Tulipa tschimganica

Sarracenia are carnivorous plants that digest flies and other unfortunate blighters! The flowers have this surreal masked appearance; hiding quite standard-looking floral naughty bits inside. This hardy hybrid is Sarracenia x catesbaei

A specimen of Arpophyllum giganteum on show in one of the orchid display cases

A pleasant and floriferous tropical weed, Turnera ulmifolia

The arresting foliage of Piper ornatum! Commonly known as Pepper Vines, the most famous of the Piper family is P. nigrum from which black pepper is harvested

Over in the Waterlily House the giant Santa Cruz waterlily, Victoria cruziana, is providing one of the most exciting sights in the garden! Native to Paraguay, the floating leaves can reach 2m across!

Just outside the Waterlily House, this impassioned chap makes a brazen attempt to steal the show!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Green spam

Good day! If you have a moment I would like to bend your ear with details of a day of lectures taking place at Kew and organised by the Kew students and the Kew Mutual Improvement Society. The event, ‘Growing vegetables, communities and sustainability’, takes place on Saturday 1st June and brings together six experts who will explore the benefits that growing vegetables can have on the environment and local communities. Here is the official hype for your consideration;
“Growing vegetables can be an extremely useful pathway to engage with a whole range of wider issues. The Kew Mutual Improvement Society believes that as a botanic garden we need to expand our social and environmental role, and growing veg could provide the platform to engage with a wider spectrum of society. We must move beyond the boundaries of our gardens and work with communities to promote sustainability. This would provide part of a significantly more holistic approach to conservation. This event will explore these issues as a means to bring about positive change within these gardens and beyond”.
Speakers on the day include biologist Colin Tudge, author of Good Food for Everyone Forever and the Secret Life of Trees. Vertical Veg expert, Mark Ridsdill Smith, will focus on growing food in small spaces, and Kevin Frediani from Paignton Zoo Environmental Park will discuss urban agriculture and plant conservation. The garden designer and all-round good egg Cleve West will share stories from his own allotment in London, and Joris Gunawarden from Sutton Community Farm will relate the success of London’s only community farm. Finally, Jenny Foulkes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh will talk about the Edible Gardening Project which has been teaching garden visitors and local communities the skills they need to grow their own veg.
Further information and tickets can be found here and here. Please feel free to share this event if you know a green fingered cove that might be interested!