Now I am shattered. First day of the Chelsea Gardening Matters forum. It started three years ago and I’ve chaired every year. This year the Royal Horticultural Society’s Bob Sweet has put two of us in per day to chair it. Today I am with Wesley Kerr.
The first time we met was in 2004 when I was presenting BBC2’s Gardens Through Time. We were filming at Chelsea. My director had told me to walk and talk in one direction, his director had told him to walk and talk in….a collision course. Neither of us saw the other coming and BANG we crashed.
This time we find a more collaborative way to work one on stage and the other cheer leading from the floor.
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
Walk to work talking to Mark Stephens my mate who’s defending Assange. A green woodpecker flies up across the path.
Along the canal a heron pecks at a sandwich surrounded by a flock of seagulls.
The gardeners in Queen Mary’s garden are pruning but will not let me take one of the rose buds which looks like antique silk
FT’s office party. Buses chug us along the Thames, South Bank lights twinkling in the water, to a nightclub overlooking Regent’s Street. Wembley lighting up the sky in one direction, millennium wheel in another. Cranes everywhere. A magnificent Egyptian frieze around the top of the building opposite.
Walk home past bling Christmas lights where Kentish Town Road crosses Regents canal..two man-sized snowmen, flashing multi-coloured lights