After a difficult start the brand new RHS flower show Chatsworth is now in full bloom and, thanks to BBC radio Manchester, I was there to see it fling open its gates and welcome the thousands of visitors who flocked to the Peak District to indulge in the finest that horticulture has to offer.
Queues were long but the scenery around Chatsworth is spectacular so it would be churlish to grumble and I, for one, love the little flutters of excitement I still feel on the way into a flowershow. Even when I’m not exhibiting I still get those tingles.
I had instructions to pick up a press pass at The Lodge and needed to park at The Great Hall. When I got there the passes had moved to Edensor. Then they were on the move again and I was told to go the Dark Peak gate. What was going on? Had I suddenly entered middle earth? Was I in Lord of the rings!!!
I bumped into a couple of other radio Manc people on the outside and we got in ( I had to pretend to be Pauline which seemed to work). Spent the next hour accosting people asking if they had seen a big, yellow BBC bus. Nobody had which wasn’t surprising really as the bus, when we finally found it, was dirty white and quite small.
I enjoy doing the radio, really enjoy it. I usually do it on a Saturday morning. I love the banter I have with the DJ’s especially Phil Trowe, but it’s the people who phone in or I chat to live that make it such fun. I was expecting to chat to a few folk at the show then wend my merry way through the show ground buying plants, looking at gardens and consuming far too many free samples of cheese, nuts and gin.
But things were a little different ….
I was sent off to find some people who would be happy to talk, live on the radio. This was ace! I headed into the floral marquee and asked my favourite nursery woman, Sue Beesley if she would have a chat a bit later.
“Yes, of course” she said amidst a throng of customers.
Bless you Sue!
Sue Beesley and Becky Want
Nurseries put together a display of their best plants. Sue put anemone ‘White Swan’ next to nepeta. Do you see just how perfectly the lilac hue on the back of the petal goes with the nepeta. Totally took my breath away!
Hang on there Broccoli! Turns out this was a faux par. Judges weren’t happy. Good job I’m not in the business of judging, just appreciating. This combo is fab!
Then I found a gentleman from Kevock Garden plants; it was actually his blue poppies that caught my eye, they were utterly enchanting. He too was more than happy to chat on air. I asked him about his plants because I haven’t ever seen such a beautiful, colourful, magical display before, it captivated me.
Turns out they are alpinists that love to grow on mountain slopes. He fell in love with them because he loves to wander through mountains and gorges. I tell him I like mountains too. He tells me he met his wife on a mountain.
“Which one?” I ask.
“Do you know the Atlas Mountains in Morocco?”
Oh my. Here we go again!
I can’t resist Lorraine’s lilies so I go for a chat. She is well up for a bit of radio banter and tells me more about her business. Based in Congleton she is a regular at the shows, I think I recognise her lilies; they are stunning and the scent of them a little intoxicating.
“Do you do Tatton?” I ask.
“Do you sell off your lilies at the end!”
And I remember why this is so familiar. The eldest Broccoli child and her cousin Sophe bought one of Lorraine’s displays a few years ago when I had done a show shed at RHS Tatton. My little blue van was jam packed but those girls, those flowers. It was their first brush with nature and there was no way, no way I wasn’t getting those flowers home!
And talking about brushes with nature I made it my mission to find Lee Bestalls garden. I’ve been browsing what the designers are up to and just loved that Lee started his brief with these words.
‘People visit the countryside for many reasons, including to clear their minds and boost their mood. Fresh air and wonderful views make us feel great.
Because I agree. Being outside makes us feel good so, if we can get people outside, by creating beautiful gardens, then we are doing a good thing. (I think that’s the designer in me reawakening.)
Gardeners World presenters were hanging around the gardens. Suddenly folk were taking photos of those guys as if the gardens were no longer important. Bugged me a bit. Tele seems alien to the public, people pushed back, tapes around gardens, keep the presenters at arms length. Give me the radio any day. It’s brill.
This clematis grower was brill too. Peter.
FromThorncroft clematis he did a fab display using clematis to adorn an old tin bath and shower.
I asked him did he enjoy this display (of course he did! I can spot joy a mile away!)
He did. Seems the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire who reside at Chatsworth love a bit of imagination, a bit of innovation.
Bring it on you guys,
bring it on.
And bring on the nurserymen who can produce perfect daffodils
out of season…
And the crafts people…
If you can, go, visit Chatsworth flowershow. Talk to people, find the stories; they are there, like gold.