Friday, 27 May 2016

Wool at Chelsea Flower Show

"You'll never believe it, but this year's Chelsea Flower Show starts with a fabulous flourish of floral wool!"  I sailed into the kitchen, full of news.  "The whole entrance to the Royal Hospital was totally carpeted with knitted poppies."
My companion paid close attention as I carried in my bags from the trip.
"Don't suppose you remembered to visit the patisserie?"
"Mille feuilles bought fresh in London, this very morning!"
Even an open box of cream cakes could not shut me up for long.
"The Great Pavilion was spectacular and the exhibitors have so much expertise.  I've ordered a clematis viticella which ought to survive on that gate arch where the jasmine died."
"Did you see Monty Don?"
"No, but there were TV cameras and presenters everywhere.  Surreal, to be mingling with the planterati, in real life."
"Oh, never mind mingling, I'd steal the show, Beaut.  A glamorous ewe always turns heads."
"You would certainly have been the only sheep in Chelsea.  There was a goat, though, centre stage, and one of the Fresh Gardens was full of dye plants and it had fleeces and yarn in it, see."  I showed Elinor my photos.
"Mmm, lush dye colours.  Bet that orange came from coreopsis.  The blue must be woad, ooh, yes, look at that flowering woad plant.  How come they only got such a titchy little space? Wool deserves a proper, grand show garden."

Splitting a slice of cheesecake between us, we contemplated a Dyed in the Wool scheme that would warrant a spot on the show's Main Avenue.
"Hawthorn bushes, all covered with May blossom, surrounded with swathes of their pale gold dyed silk.  Silver birches and a gnarly apple tree, piles of branches, stripped to make bark dyes."
"A great big iron cauldron on a 
tripod over a fire pit and a huge copper ram, to represent the metal mordants and modifiers."
"A classic spinning wheel, with hand carders and combs."
"Spindles dangling from a tree like fruit, fat with scarlet madder root dyed yarn."
"A boundary fence of open shelves with a whole range of solar jars, full of petal colours soaking into wool, diffracting the sun like stained glass."
"Ooo, yes, and in the background, some history, a mediaevel 
monastery - most of the monks' wealth came from monopolising the wool trade."
"Actually, there was one stall selling sheepswool - as garden compost. How times have changed."
"Could you manage a vanilla macaron?"
"Rude not to."
We ate our cake in remarkable harmony.
"Which was the best, then?"
"Well, there were two that truly stirred the soul. Cleve West's garden filled my heart, then Andy Sturgeon's broke it.  I've never cried over any garden before.  In my opinion, the judges gave the top award to the right designer."
Elinor licked a bit of cream off her hoof.
"In my opinion, it was the chocolate gateau."


  1. very practical thinking ewe - stomach is more important than inspiration:) I'd have loved to see the dyer's garden, it sounds so inspiring - and thanks for the photos, they look beautiful! I do think you shouldn't mention so much cake though - makes me hungry just reading about it:)

    1. Ah, French patisserie, it's a good job there aren't any round here. While I was delighted to find a dye garden, in form and planting, it wasn't one of the ones that really inspired me. Mind, the competition was extremely hot. Did you see the garden with a mini car in it on TV? That was terrific and the one with the floating planters and the sampan was a delight. So, that's the garage and the bathroom reconfigured.