THE RHS Plant and Design Show. 21.02.14

Things were much simpler when this was the early spring show. Here we are, early in the morning, early in the year, looking at plants. We rather like this show and have on occasion ploughed through wind and snow to get here. Fortunately today the sun has come out, Gloria has had a good sleep and I have had a good breakfast which is the way we like it.

In recent years this has informally become the Snowdrop Show and this is the marvellous stand from Avon Bulbs at the head of the hall, by the steps. It sets the style and the standard for the show. A few other exhibitors display snowdrops, but none with such mastery of the art.

In the event, the show was not dominated by snowdrops. It seems that the next great thing will be sweet violets though I am sanguine about their future. Delightful as they are, they have never really captured the public imagination and they didn't seem to be flying from the traders hands like hot cakes. They are delicate and whimsical but they do tend to romp about a bit. Like a young bride who has graced a lot of beds previously, the fragile innocence act wears a bit thin and there is something over-rehearsed about their allure.

Traditional and yet brand new, Jacques Amand staged a wonderful sea of blue bulbous Iris. There were old favourites here among the cultivars. Indeed, I think I have known the baskets they were staged in for some years. There were also new selections, new names to learn and new pleasures to savour. Gloria does not like them because she says they have ugly leaves, however she also declines sandals because she has ugly toes, the same solution is available. I'm not suggesting one banishes sandals from the border, merely that one can avoid unwanted emphasis on the deficiency.

Crug Farm Plants venture from their Welsh fastness to the show and are a welcome sight. One knows without daring to ask that each unknown fragment of a foreign leaf carries with it a tale of adventure. It is an amazing thing and one of the wonders of our age that one can wander into a school hall in the centre of London and discover the rarest marvels of the east piled onto a trestle table.

Broadleigh Gardens have been producing spring stands of this quality for decades. It sometimes seems as though the bright light shines from the stand, and not the other way around. I was chatting to Lady Skemersdale last year when she had just announced that she was going to stand back a bit and take things more gently. No sign of it happening yet! My we laughed.

And so we come to the design element of the show. It is a curious thing, the RHS are adamant that their judges are not qualified to judge design and restrict their comments to the standard of implementation. However, they continue to put on events to showcase design.
I don't pretend to understand such things but it leads to some awkward situations.
This is a greenhouse that can't be used for growing things in. It contains two dead strip-lights. I assume they are supposed to be dead, why else would they be lying on the floor?
This claims to be design but it seems to me that anybody who puts a pile of stones in a glasshouse deserves to have their illusions shattered.

Glass Houses and seed potatoes are a strange combination. These things were all hidden away in the Lindley Hall with some stands selling floral cards, colleges selling training courses, and a potter selling ceramic art. I was left wondering why the RHS felt that a ticket was required for admission. I would have though that anybody who could be dragged in from the street should be welcome. Tellingly, the largest crowd in the building was to be found in the cafeteria.
My goodness diversity is a good thing, and we both love the RHS for providing it. We don't quite know what planet they originally came from but they have worked hard and they almost fit in.

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