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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    

Erotic Talk

Lusciously lean James Alexander Sinclair has been in touch to tell me about The Guardian’s sexy gardens piece yesterday. Garden filth is a particular favourite of mine. Contact me if you’d like to come to one of the Erotic Gardens talks I’m giving, for charity, in Oxford and London.    

Chelsea saint

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.    

Challenge: how would you define ‘garden’?

Ian came up with some definitions of a garden. Which is brave because no one has managed a decent definition- ever. And it’s been a while since Adam and Eve started the garden business.
Adam and Eve were too busy eating apples to define where they were but we British should have come up with a definition by now. Even the OED definition (“enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables”) was deemed inadequate. Last year, in the High Court, Lord Justice Moses said, ‘That definition is clearly now too narrow, as the current fashion for wild gardens and meadow areas amply demonstrates.
‘The reality is that no description will categorically establish whether a piece of land is a garden or not. It is incumbent on the fact finder to determine its use.
‘It is important to look at the relationship between the owner and the land, and the history and character of the land and space.’

Is the true definition: ‘the only place where the British feel able to express themselves’?
Your thoughts here, please.


Julian Dowle, Lila and the missing Ann-Marie

Julian Dowle, Chelsea veteran, judge and winner of countless gold medals with Lila Das Guptas, BBC Chelsea star and I crept into this hut to escape the razzmatazz outside.

I wish Ann-Marie Powell had been able to join us but Gilbert Bundy prevented her appearance at Chelsea and, at a few days old, he would not have been allowed in the showground. Yet another reason that the RHS should reconsider its under-fives ban.