Posted by: Naomi Slade | June 1, 2011

Mystic Veg

Living the dream

'A Child's Garden in Wales' at Chelsea Flower Show 2011

As that Hannibal Smith off the A-Team would say, I love it when a plan comes together. But more than that I love it when my crystal ball proves to be right.

A trip to Chelsea Flower Show last week showed that my earlier predictions on the rise of edibles were spot on: veggies and, particularly herbs, are now king of the plot. In amongst Cleve West’s pared back concrete pillars, the azure Monaco swimming pools, and Diarmuid Gavin’s red elevated garden (which, despite jokes about it taking up the entire GDP of Ireland, I quite liked – reminded me of a book I had when I was little), there was lots to see. Herbs like marjoram and thyme were used as bedding both horizontal and vertical while chives popped up as a floral addition to borders large and small. Sea kale, too, has stormed in from behind to take its place in the elegant and acceptable pantheon of ornamental gardening.

Less elegant was an appalling concatenation in the Great Pavilion. It looked a bit like a contemporary florist had had a mid-air collision with a greengrocer and landed on Ikea. Perhaps just fill in the resulting taste crater and move on.

Chelsea is art. A confection of dreams. And, therefore, should not be taken too seriously as a metre by which to live one’s life. I aspire with the best of them, yet my favourite edible garden was not Bunny Guinness’ mega-potager but Silver medal winning A Child’s Garden in Wales by Ysgol Bryn Castell and Heronsbridge School with Anthea Guthrie. Set in 1947 it epitomises the grow-your-own necessity of the time, with recycled fencing, traditional veggies and a scatter of cloth toys. Pretty and unassuming, it was a garden one could grow, eat and live in and therefore, for me, it was far closer to both dream and reality.

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