Ulf Nordfell, this year’s king of Chelsea, strolls in with a posse of sleek-looking Swedes. They are staying at the Swedish Embassy which sounds swish until he tells me that it’s full of Ikea furniture. I wonder if our diplomatic outposts are furnished from Homebase.
Tricky moment when sound man tries to clip a mike to Ulf’s new black leather Armani jacket but GP James smoothes ruffled foliage with an even smoother introduction for Ulf’s ‘conversation’ with me as his bit of the afternoon is billed.
Professor Caroline Evans from Central St Martins brought a whole new angle to the party. She enjoys pursuing gardens – catching up with them as they change. Like the Pursuit of Happiness I suppose. She presented us with Plant-free Garden equivalents from her world. Apparently one fashion collection had no clothes – nothing.
On an equally surreal note Stephen wondered if it were possible to make a garden by wrapping the whole of the RHS Council and leaving the resulting bundle outside.
Gorgeous pouting (GP) James Alexander Sinclair, author of outstanding garden blogs for the BBC and himself http://web.me.com/blackpittsgarden/Site … ment_layer as well as being a famous, fabulous person, is co-chairing Chelsea’s Gardening Matters forum with me today.
Mark Gregory and Ian Dexter are first up to talk about the Marshalls garden – The Street http://www.marshalls.co.uk/transform/chelsea/. The Street is buzzing.
I’ve admired Mark’s excellent Chelsea construction work (and more recently his own eco designs) for years. And I loved Ian’s Marshall’s garden last year with its clever climbing frame/ pavilion. But what I liked most about seeing these two on stage together is that they were still speaking – just a couple of days after the exhausting marathon of a Chelsea build which has a lot of designers and constructors ripping each other limb from limb .
Teetered in from the official opening of Kim Wilkie’s new landscape ‘Orpheus’, dripping mud and rain across rolling floorboards at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. Orpheus is an elegant turf pit (above, behind Kim) representing the eponymous hero’s journey into the underworld – in landscaping terms a 21st century answer to the neighbouring eighteenth century Olympian Mount (below).
A tempest lashed around us while we inspected Kim’s elegant pit and a band of early musicians, I Fagiolini, plunged down towards Hades to play a few bars until the rain drove us all indoors.
I wonder how many times this scene has played out through the ages with seventeenth and eighteenth century guests rattling up from London for a garden party only to be rained on.
Feel that Orpheus, who sang so sweetly that he scared away the Sirens while he was being a Greek hero, should have been able to have scared away the rain. When he descended into the underworld to rescue his wife, and then bogged up the mission by breaking a promise, I wonder if it occurred to him that he would be remembered as a verdant pit – or a romping ENO operetta.
Either way the place is worth visiting. The hellish new landscape is heavenly (although I’m not convinced by the Fibonacci curve at the top of the pit pictured at the top of this page) and the surrounding old landscape is magnificent. The rest of the garden’s brimming with plant and design interest. And the house stuffed full of beautiful, ancient, unusual paintings (including an unusual one of Henry VIII and his three children); Venetian chests, gorgeous ceilings and grand/cosy four posters.
All still lived in by the man who commissioned the landscape, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry (pictured here using the music stand as an umbrella) and his large family.
Was the evening becoming tired and emotional when OE artist/ceramicist Jonathan Garratt www.jonathangarratt.com suggested planting up either side of airport runways to make ‘accelerated gardens’? These are gardens designed to be viewed at twenty miles an hour or whatever it takes for a Ryanair jet to crawl into the sky.
The great rosearian Michael Marriot is the next speaker. He reminds me about my love affair with roses. Years, ago when I bought my first David Austin roses, I reckoned that they were fashionable but useless but now….I would not be without their voluptuous scent and petals. And I certainly wouldn’t be without the advice of brilliant Michael
Not that we always agree. Michael once banned me from planting the thornless, heavily scented Zepherine Drouhin rose in a client’s garden. I have never really forgiven him but, on the other hand, David Austin’s http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english … showr=5084 Young Lycidas is roughly the same colour – but deeper pink maybe – and the scent is mind blowing.
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