All those lovely people who have expressed concern for my beautiful Border Collie Lily will be pleased to hear that I picked her up today. We have had a few scares over the last two weeks and it has been touch and go as to whether she would survive, but she's home! She's looking a bit battered and bruised and gets tired quickly, but it's wonderful to have her back again (I realise that the non dog-lovers amongst you will find all this completely incomprehensible).
Anyway, on to RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. I tried to keep a journal each day and failed miserably, of course, but here are some of the scraps I managed to record:
23 June: Arrived at the site at about 7.30am having left home at 5.45. The RHS have removed the turf on our plot, but that's all. Just a 6 metre by 4 metre rectangle of bare earth which over the next two weeks will be transformed into our garden. By the end of a very hot and difficult day we had pegged the garden out, taken levels and started digging...
30 June: (Did I say I had diligently kept at record? No, I did not.) Up at 5.30am to hand over the plants I've been nurturing at home to Quentin (Stark, our brilliant nursery man) to transfer them to Hampton Court with all the rest. It's wonderful having the plants here now, although I think I've gone overboard on the quantities. The advice is to decide what you'll need then order another 60%, but I think I'll only use a quarter of what's been delivered.
The trees are in! It took a fork lift truck and 4 big, strong men plus Wendy, and God knows how we'll get them out again...but they are so beautiful. Slender and white stemmed, leaves trembling in the breeze.
It's now 8.30pm and I'm so tired that as soon as I get to Jodie's (my neice who lives about 2 miles from HC) I'm going to bed.
1 July: Spent the morning cleaning the three clumped birch trees. I've got one of those E-cloth things and it was brilliant at cleaning algae from the trunks and branches. Had to be careful not to damage their peeling bark and it took ages,but it was worth it. They have emerged even more beautiful than before.
Strangely, although I've been looking forward to it for ages, I was scared to start the planting. I kept finding other things to do to delay the moment. Finally, when I couldn't put it off any longer, I plunged in with a grouping of Veronicastrum, Sanguisorba, Orlaya and some catmint. I did prepare a planting plan, but I don't like to stick slavishly to them. It all depends so much on the individual plants that I prefer the freedom of designing as I go but with a rough framework provided by a plan. This is especially true of this garden. I really want it to look as though it hasn't been especially planted out but has just happened, in a very relaxed sort of way.
I didn't finish planting until about 8.30, then ate at Pizza Express in Hampton Court for the second night running, totally exhausted and glad to be staying with Jodie.
There is more to come, promise, if anyone's interested. Now the pressure's off and the show's over I'll update the blog more frequently. We still, however, have to break the garden up and leave the site as we found it, so back on the chain gang tomorrow!