You have to love transatlantic flights overnight. They redefine the word “sleep” and make me wonder why garden writing doesn’t generate enough income for one of those fully reclining chair/beds at the front of the plane. If you manage to keep active after you land, then eventually people start to ask you if you are tired as you do a face plant into your steak and kidney pie at dinner time. For us, of course, it was all worth it as our far flung family started to gather for a week of celebrating and partying our way toward the wedding on Friday afternoon. Oh, right, this is supposed to be a gardening newsletter.

We left the party on Wednesday to go to member’s day at the Hampton Court Flower Show. It is billed as the biggest flower show in the world; a fact that I cannot dispute but I can attest to its being the wettest. It rained! Then it rained some more and then apparently we set a one day record for July rainfall in this country, famous for it rather damp weather.
It did not rain for the outdoor wedding.
Despite the damp, the flower show was well worth the effort. We are still reeling from the massive displays of single species of most garden flowers. The innovative outdoor gardens simply left us wanting to tear up everything back home and try some of these new ideas. Luckily we knew we were unable to bring home anything from the row upon row of booths offering every imaginable plant or garden accessory and that knowledge kept a lot of £’s in our pockets. The booths selling sunglasses and ice cream were manned by people enjoying a soggy nap, while the one booth selling pretty flower patterned “wellies” was doing a roaring trade. The huge pile of empty boxes beside his booth attesting to the fact that most of his customers wore their purchases immediately.

Thursday was spent in much more amenable circumstances; the bride plied me with a glass or two of their wedding champagne as I created the wedding flowers. She had chosen Calla Lilies as a theme and there were dozens of them to become bouquets, centrepieces, boutonniere and corsages. Even the sugar flowers on the cake were Callas. It’s always fun being creative with flowers and this was a delightful afternoon. As a gardener, you are always learning and this was no exception. Everything looked wonderful, if I can be allowed to compliment myself, but making wrist corsages from the long linear form of Callas was a an interesting exercise.

After all of the festivities we got down to serious garden touring. The gardens at Sissinghurst were that rare treat. They lived up to and exceeded our expectations. The vast array of plants that are used is enough to create green envy in any gardener’s heart but the true wonder of this garden is in the design and layout of the physical space and the arrangement of the plants within those spaces. Around every corner there was an artfully designed sight line leading your eye to another part of the garden or simply leaving you to enjoy the carefully created vista. The Sissinghurst white garden is justifiably famous. Every N. American who arrives here frustrated and exhausted from driving on the “wrong” side of the road and getting lost in a roundabout, needs to sit in this incredibly calming space for a few moments.

Great Dixter, the home and garden of Christopher Lloyd looked very enticing as we observed the entry way over the sign announcing that it was closed on Mondays. A little more planning should ease the tension in our car on our next trip. I navigate and plan; the assistant gardener drives, (she was born there and learned to drive on “that” side of the road.)

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Ken Answers! No questions this time. Internet access has been a bit difficult and we are having too much fun to spend time indoors on the computer.

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Whitby ON