Not Chelsea…


So it’s the Chelsea Flower Show again. Yet another year and I still haven’t been. I suspect that my type of gardening is very far removed from the average Chelsea affair, but a part of me would still love to go and see what I’ve been missing.

Evidently for some people, creating a garden must feel the same way that I feel when I design and stitch a tapestry. There must be a thrill in the planning, the drama of sourcing the plants to provide the textures and colours required, the physical effort of placing each element in the allotted spot and the sense of achievement when the whole garden is finished looking as they originally wished – or better.

But although I understand that, and although I suppose I create tapestries in a similar way, I don’t seem to transfer that approach to my own garden.

There is no way I could have created a laburnum, sycamore and plum tree combination.
There is no way I could have created a laburnum, sycamore and plum-tree combination.

For me the garden isn’t something over which I have overall control – despite my vague ideas, I don’t feel that it is all up to me what grows where and when, instead I sense that I am in a gentle partnership with nature, and I know who has the upper hand (and it isn’t me).

In my garden, nature takes the lead. My role is to keep things relatively tidy, give the stragglers a chance to come through, throw in the occasional plant and let nature decide if it’s going to stay or not.

If all that sounds terribly passive, I’d agree, but the fact is, that since I stopped trying to take control, and instead decided to spend more time enjoying what was actually happening, things seem to be coming together in a far more harmonious way than they have before.

I still enjoy visiting beautiful gardens, but I no longer come home feeling inadequate about my own. I get a huge contentment watching the seasons unfold in our tiny space and that for me is exciting and wonderful. And by letting nature make most of the decisions, there’s always the potential for a lovely surprise.

IMAG1430And over the years, I’ve started to take more interest in how plants really look – vast drifts of planting can be magnificent, but there’s no less beauty in single blooms.

IMAG1425 IMAG1436

You just have to look for it.

And I am convinced that nature has a wonderful sense of style – how else would she arrange for a self-seeded wallflower to grow against the peeling paint of the garage door – and match the shade of paint peeping through?


So I’ll look froward to Alan Titchmarsh taking me on a guided tour of Chelsea, but this year it will have to be from the comfort of my sofa – again.