Chelsea Flower Show

Some things never change. The Chelsea Flower Show was crowded and there was, to my way of thinking, too much emphasis on hard landscaping rather than plants. Refreshments are priced just right if you're a sheikh or a Russian oligarch. The gardens look much smaller than they do on the television.

As ever, though, there were plenty of attractive plants and gardens. I hate to think that gardening is subject to fashion but it is. This year, the fashion seems to be for foxgloves. Well, I certainly won't complain about that! They're such beautiful flowers and very attractive to bees. In fact, one of the most noticeable things about Chelsea was the large number of bees – and no wonder, with all those foxgloves, thistles and lavender.

If the Meteorological Office had got things right for once, we'd have been drenched yesterday evening. Fortunately for the bees and us, they got it wrong.

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Hampton Court Flower Show

Perhaps I'm just an old curmudgeon but it seems to me that the Royal Horticultural Society's flower show at Hampton Court Palace encapsulates all that is worst in modern gardening. I'm glad I managed to see all this on my television set rather than making a trip there, especially as the RHS has a history of trapping people in the carpark for hours.

Rather as the Turner Prize has dispensed with talent (and indeed art) in favour of brain-dead gimickry, the Hampton Court flower show has largely relegated flowers to a secondary role supporting hard landscaping, rust and an almost complete lack of imagination.

I particularly disliked the Russian Museum Garden which is completely charmless and utterly fails to evoke the spirit of St Petersburg. The Azorean Garden reminds me of nothing so much as tiramasu. Riot of Colour and Do Not Adjust Your Set are hymns in praise of the subjugation of nature by urban grunge. 

Gluttons for punishment can see what the show has to offer here.

 

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The Lemon Groves of Richmond upon Thames

They used to call it Global Warming until some of us pointed out it was getting bloody cold. So now they call it Climate Change and every time there is a change in the weather (and British weather is always unpredictable) they point to it as proof of their hypotheses.

I prefer to be more cautious in my judgement and, since we could certainly benefit from some warmer and dryer weather at the moment, let us hope that there is some truth in the predictions of Climate Change. Perhaps the picture above is evidence of it: a ripe and fragrant lemon from my garden in Richmond upon Thames. My sister gave me the tree a few years ago and it has been enjoying the English climate ever since (rather more than I have, I suspect). Not for one minute has it been kept inside or protected from the elements.

I live in hope of seeing lemon groves planted on the slopes of Richmond Hill, gaily adorned by flocks of ring-necked parakeets (which, although they are a common sight in Richmond, have at present few lemon trees on which to perch).

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