Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hampton Court: the edited highlights

So, to the Hampton Court press preview yesterday beneath an inky sky of thunderous intent. I did indeed get wet, several times, but it failed to detract from the general jollity of the occasion. Here are the highlights:
Best meeting and greeting moment: Being introduced to the star of the sock wars, James Alexander-Sinclair. (He was judging, so looked extremely smart. Unlike me.) And meeting Lila Das Gupta, and Camilla Swift, and saying hello to old friends like Cleve West.
Best dry moment: Sheltering under Emma Townshend's umbrella and sharing a slice of lemon cake with her in Floral Marquee 3.
Worst wet moment: Walking home from the station carrying two heavy hemerocallis in torrential rain.
Best veg moment: Michael Balston's vegetable gardens outside the Growing Tastes marquee. And the Dorset Cereals garden.
Most bizarre moment: Talking to Norman Willis, former secretary-general of the Trades Union Council, and now a monthly columnist for Cross Stitcher magazine. (US readers: this is equivalent to Jimmy Hoffa Jr joining the American Needlepoint Guild.) Emma and I met him while watching a performance artist pretend to be stung by a bee in Floral Marquee 1. You couldn't make it up ...
Best guerrilla moment: Meeting Richard Reynolds, who has pioneered the guerrilla gardening movement in south London, and who had created his entire show garden out of a skip and other exhibitors' cast-offs. (He now has a book out, called On Guerrilla Gardening, available on Amazon.
Worst gorilla moment: Staring at an enormous bronze statue of a gorilla and wondering: Why????
Best floral moment: Admiring Yorkshire grower Dave Parkinson's gorgeous Disa orchids, and listening to Dave and his wife Mary telling funny stories.
Best Dave Parkinson funny story: A friend of theirs breeds cymbidium orchids and on one occasion bred a very fine yellow variety, which he named 'Margaret Thatcher'. He couldn't sell it for love nor money. We all got the giggles at that one.
Best fashion moment: Seeing how many coats Rachel de Thame requires to present one broadcast.
Best learning moment: Talking to canna expert Keith Hayward in the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens marquee
Best conceptual garden moment: Forest2 (Forest Squared), by Ivan Tucker
Worst photographic moment: Trying and failing to photograph Forest2 by Ivan Tucker. It consisted of a grove of birch trees, beautifully planted to look like a forest glade, and surrounded on three sides by mirror. The effect was to multiply the image so you saw an unending forest stretching into the distance. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way of taking a picture that didn't include me reflected in the mirror, complete with hi-vis vest.
Worst photographic moment 2: The picture below. You probably can't see anything but it represents, from left, Emma Townshend, Camilla Swift, Lila Das Gupta and Cleve West.