Thursday 2 June 2011
Chelsea: eye of the storm
Never been to the Chelsea Flower Show before, never going again, but I would say that a glimpse of meconopsis baileyi, the Himalayan blue poppy we know so well from Dawyck in the Scottish Borders, as part of a truly well-thought-out display at the heart of it all made the crush worthwhile.
You have to negotiate the circles of hell first. The outer ones are the worst: garden furniture, statuary and rusty tortured metal of unsurpassable hideousness. 'Aspirational lifestyle rubbish' said J lugubriously, and it actually got worse once he'd made his exit and I tried to see what all the crowds were flocking to on the south side: the ludicrous plant lift 'modelled on Avatar', and what else I know not, because being caught in the thick of the jostling Middle English throng, I turned turtle and backed out. It was a little better in the grassy dell, where a brass band was playing an arrangement of the first, second and last movements from Mackerras's glorious Sullivan potpourri Pineapple Poll, but the refreshments on offer weren't much better than the garden ware.
The central marquee improves in terms of scent and display, though it doesn't do too much for species all jammed together. Thus hyacinths (in May?)
digitalis cum papaver
lupins in abundance
and pitcher plants with Darwin's beloved drosera.
Then I found something I liked: the stand of Kevock Garden, 'alpine, bog and woodland specialists'. The Rankins who run it head off to the wild parts of the world to see what they're selling in situ . I even bought a catalogue.
And here, at the quiet eye of the storm, was meconopsis, which I know my friend Kurt Ryz will be glad to see. Indeed, he probably has them thriving in his Finchley garden; I envy him his success, since the ones we transported from Chapelgill, Broughton, failed to thrive.