Sometimes dreams do come true. (Photo showing the crop of unfortunately named rapeseed, Brassica napus, the source of canola oil that was seen blanketing the hills and valleys of rural England as we rode the train from London to Malvern.)
Going there, to England, they speak the same language, sort of, has been a fantasy all of my life. Seeing the countryside and gardens in movies and magazine, it seemed the most perfect of places with its verdant lushness and tranquil villages. The opportunity presented itself in the way of a garden blogger meet up in early May. Who would have thought that jumping into the blogdom would have led down the primrose path to the magical land of myth and mirth? Dear friend and fellow innocent abroad Gail of Clay And Limestone begat the idea of making this journey together. Many thanks, Gail, for planting the seed of something that seemed an impossibility at first, then blossomed into reality. (Photo of a fallen tree carcass on the Heath at Hampstead during a tour by longtime friend Ralph who so generously put us up our first night in London. Thank you my dear friend, it was so nice to see you again.)
There were many astounding sights seen, so many that it will take several tellings to scrape just the surface of the experience. To begin, there was the Malvern Spring Garden Show where an international bevy of bloggers met thanks to the hard working VP of Veg Plotting and Helen the Patient Gardener. On the Meet At Malvern site, click on the photo on my sidebar to view it all, there is a Mister Linky of stories written by the attendees that will flesh out the show itself which can be retrieved by clicking here-Essentials #1.
At the show there were display gardens set up, full landscapes with hardscape and plantings. Ideas to take home were everywhere. Combinations of colorful flowers and foliage, leaf textures and the use of pathways and seating were well represented. Despite the chill wind and drizzle there were crowds of garden lovers taking it all in, as shown by the backpack toting, hooded Ewa of Ewa In The Garden, pronounced Ava, who traveled from Poland to join in the fun.
The event even drew British royalty. Princess Anne, daughter of Elizabeth, sister of Charles and the hardest working royal according to every single blogger under the monarchy, visited Deb’s display, surrounded by not so secret security, easily recognized by the scowls on their faces not to mention wearing ties. I was impressed by her demeanor, straight as a board posture and the fact that she carried her own umbrella. No, we did not curtsy, but we were asked to please step back as we inched forward to get a better photo.
Phytosanitation laws prevented us from buying plants to bring home, a dagger through the heart, but improper packing for the climate required Gail and me to purchase hand made woolens from the delightful Sophie of Wild Woollens from Dent, Cumbria, LA10 5QR, to warm our core(s). We both bought these stylish felted coats and matching fingerless gloves, donning them in the stall and feeling cozy for the rest of the day. We could barely try things on with the crowd of women doing the same in the small space. Sophie, seated, was very successful with sales that day I am happy to report. Her smile says it all.
We were just going to walk through this large tent on the way to pick up a free book from Wiggly Wigglers for which we had been given a coupon. There was no sense looking at the plants for sale since none could be brought home. That idea was soon rubbish, a favorite word in the UK, when our attention was snatched by a display that featured carniverous plants that are native to our part of the world. We then slowly looked around to see fabulous flowers featured inticingly in every direction.
Warmed up, free book in hand we went back outside and discovered yet more displays. This raised bed of alpines was an idea that could be easily copied. Logs surrounded a scree type planting of small specimens. This could be done on a smaller scale, a way to grow these treasures no matter what type of soil one has. Gail points to get our attention. (The variegated plant in front is not part of the planting)
Art rendered in wood, metal and stone was featured prominently. The flying dragon at the top of this display caught my attention. You might notice the image in the mirror of the photographer in action. The lavender raincoat will never be worn in public again, subjugated henceforth to the gardening gear peg in the mudroom. Gail said at least she could always spot me in the crowd of black and tan raincoats worn by everyone else. It was the only color available in my size is the only defense.
That night we were treated to a potluck dinner at Helen’s lovely home. The happy faces of newfound friends are even more wonderful than the flowers, gardens and art seen at the show. Thank you all, it was the greatest of pleasures to meet you.
(seated on floor from left: me, Sally the Constant Gardener, Victoria of Victoria’s Backyard. On sofa from left:Claire of Plant Passions, Yolanda Elizabet from Bliss, Helen the Patient Gardener, Ewa of Ewa In The Garden, Michelle of My Horticultural Ramblings. Standing from left: Lia of Midnight Brambling, Zoe formerly of Garden Hopping, Karen of An Artist’s Garden, Gail of Clay And Limestone, Elizabeth of Welsh Hills Again, Denise aka Easygardener of Greenforks, Michelle of Veg Plotting.)
So ends the first leg of the journey. There is more, much more to come as the intrepid travelers representing the USA went touring the gardens and countryside of England.
There is a permanent page on the sidebar containing the links to the England posts as well. Click England Trip-Two Innocents Abroad to view it.
The England trip posts: