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Chelsea collision

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.


Garden History Society bash at the Geffrye Museum

Il Presidente Dominic demonstrating the Mexican Cough.
2 The Hort Week mob proving that their Champagne Tracker Device is infallible.
3 Matthew Appleby shortly before he throttled Bob Sherman to get Garden Organic’s Guru to spill the Green beans.
4 Nice gate
5 The world’s only ugly Regency feature: a Gardenesque Mound as invented by poor, boring, worthy old John Loudon who died standing up while dictating his latest book.
6 Rosa Mundi, swoon.
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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.    

Erotic garden talks

I’ll be talking about Erotic Gardens on Friday February 5th at Middle Temple (all proceeds to Malawi Dream, tickets from and March 12 and 19 in Oxford. The Oxford gigs are also fund raisers, one for a new homeless charity working with the Burford Garden Company. Probably easiest to buy tickets from me. Watch this space for updates about the charities etc!

Patrick Blanc and the plant that nearly decapitated Tim

Run away to the Athenaeum Hotel on Piccadilly to drink champagne with one of my garden heros, Patrick Blanc 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


Cardinal Vaughan

The Cardinal reminds me of Blake’s Sick Rose picture

Not that this tree peony star he is sick. He started waving his finery around just before Chelsea after six years twiddling his thumbs and refusing to flower much despite sitting in a pot of my finest Chateau Owen compost.

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