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Qui vivat atque floreat ad plurimos annos

The eagle-nosed garden god and spelling bee champion James Alexander Sinclair (pictured here swapping ears with Ann-Marie Powell) has jiggled and joggled his ASCII-to-hex chart, primped and preened his sprocket retainer bolts and come up with an even shiner website. The blog’s good, too witty, erudite, timely, apt. So maybe this is what comes of hitting the half century. Happy almost birthday for the 30th oh illustrious one.    

Hats off to Chelsea

Tom Hoblyn’s Iris and pitcher plants
Prowling round the gardens after hours on Wednesday with Lila Das Gupta, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hayley Monkton (who appears looking blonde and gorgeous on the RHS Chelsea website), Bob Sweet and other luminaries I fell back in love with the show.
What a way to show off or w***** wave as a learned friend put it.
But this year the Big Budget Boys had some worthy shoestring rivals like Sarah Eberle’s four gardens at £15, 000 all in. And Marshalls’ excellent down-to-earth gardens by Ian Dexter – ditto Mark Gregory’s.
Showing off doesn’t have to be expensive although Chelsea still needs the really swanky stuff – like Tom Hoblyn’s Foreign and Colonial Investments garden and Laurent-Perrier’s sublime creation…and Ulf’s. But it’s great to see that lot swirled in with a bit of bite and irony from Sarah Eberle, the Plastercine garden and the Quilted Velvet Garden.

As darkness fell we moved into the pavilion and came across late night voodoo from the floral art people – flower arrangers – who are doing Flamboyant Hats. Some had driven down from the north after spending days weaving pansies, Strelitzia, bamboo, lilies into headpieces worthy of Ladies’ Day at Ascot or the Amazonian rainforest.
The whole thing’s barmy and brilliant and I love it.

Above:Dean Stalham who write the poem for the Eden Project garden.

Below: Yet another luscious garden by Jekka

Chelsea Monday

Long chat with Ulf Nordfell on Monday as he tweaked and tickled his iris, stachys and pinkly scented Rosa X odorata ‘Mutabilis’ hours before his garden was awarded best in show. It’s the simplicity of his and all the other award winning gardens this year that appeals. But his inspiration is complex: English, Swedish, modernist (he talks about Hidcote in terms of its modernism) Renaissance and, more specifically Boticelli. It’s the latter’s exquisite paintings which prompted Ulf to plant against a dark background. Hence his jewelled grass. Mmmm    

Heroic rosearian

Sir Hardy Amies, the Rosa Mundi nutter, war hero and Queen’s couturier would have been 100 last Friday and, in celebration, David Freeman had a lunch at Hardy’s Gloucestershire garden where the last of the Rosa mundi are just going over. His garden looks lovelier than ever now that its corsets have been slightly loosened. And I so approve of loose corsets.    

James May love gardens but it doesn’t show. Plus Monkey

Clever RHS – taking on the Plastercine garden with all the attendant publicity driven by Top Gear Presenter James May And then justifying the otherwise unjustifiably non-living garden by awarding a Plastercine medal. Just one criticism of the otherwise unimpeachable RHS: why bang on about getting children into gardening and then ban small children from Chelsea? I suppose they leave the under fives to enjoy the hooligan tendencies of the Hampton Court Flower Show.

I feel that this is an issue Garden Monkey … htmlshould address. S/he was in the Gardening Matters tent when James are I were (in theory) in charge. Still don’t know who it is. Guesses in the comment box please. In the meantime I will try to persuade The Monkey, who is too busy to do much of his/her blogging s/he says, to guest blog here.



This weekend marks the first Cottesbrooke plant fair in Northamptonshire. Cleve West, James Alexander Sinclair, Camilla Swift and Phillippa May snuffling around the stalls. A lot of Chlesea Flower Show refusnics are exhibiting. High quality stuff. Chiltern Seeds …heavenly unusual plants. Woottens whose catalogue alone is swoonable. Odds swing seats, hats and pretty fabrics. Good food and an amble through James’ excellent double herbaceous border behind the garden monkey statue…which makes me think, once again, that James is the GM. He swears he isn’t.    


Lake swimming last night. Water lily flowers tight shut. Vast pike leaps out of the water lily pads beside me.

Now I will stick to admiring my own mini lilies, by day, from my pike-free garden.    

Chelsea RudeBoy

Roy Lancaster, that gentle, adorable plantsman whose passion for trees makes me want to buy a field and get planting, was giving a talk in the Gardening Matters tent. An elderly gentleman in the front row got up to go. Roy made a cheery comment – but the ‘gentleman’ answered with a rude gesture. Bizarre and very un Chelsea. I suppose that, as chair, I should have had him composted. Instead I send dagger thoughts to you Mr RudeBoy.    

What a fantastic city

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