Chelsea Cough’s been worse than ever this year. Plane trees dominate the site and chuck down pollen that sandpapers eyes and makes victims cough and choke. It’s blocked the filters on James Wong’s Canary Islands garden. Mind you, The Cough is nothing beside the other complaints brought on by Chelsea. Quilted Velvet Gardener Tony Smith’s back’s gone(that’s him lolling about in the Lolling About area in the pic). Tom Hoblyn http://www.thomashoblyn.com/ (redwood curves against the chemical yellow pitcher plants pictured below) is so exhausted he can barely speak. Designers, builders, horticulturists and plant checkers are wandering about in a state of sleep deprivation. Paul Stone of the Eden Project’s Key garden looked as if he was about to expire. Welcome to Chelsea or, as Chelsea widows and widowers sometimes call it, The Marriage Breaker.
Come across Paul Stone, Eden Project garden’s designer surrounded by some of the prisoners and homeless people who are creating this show garden. This is the stage where every designer is tired, anxious and bad tempered but, as one of his gardening ingénues, drags a hose pipe across about 100 plants, cracking stems as he does so, Paul breaks our conversation for a moment, says a gentle ‘excuse me’ to the miscreant and moves the hose away from the plants.
This pic shows Dean Stalham the ex prisoner turned poet who wrote on Eden’s wood henge.
Run away to the Athenaeum Hotel on Piccadilly http://www.athenaeumhotel.com/ to drink champagne with one of my garden heros, Patrick Blanc http://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com/ and watch as Tim Richardson is nearly decapitated by a flying plant. It has been dislodged from the top Patrick’s stunning new planting on the outside walls of this otherwise lumpen building. Well, there’s a high wind. Tim, showing sang froid worthy of Queen Victoria, simply picks up the plant tries to replant it in the hotel’s window box. I bring Patrick over and tell him what’s just happened. Patrick is alarmed and says to Tim:
‘Be careful – that is a very special plant.’
Patrick is a consummate plantsman