What a tremendous RHS Show at Cardiff last weekend – record numbers, the hottest day of the year so far and so many people coming along to The Green Room to say Hello. I was humbled by the amount of people who came along and said that they follow my weekly column in the Western Mail or the Abergavenny Chronicle, listen to me on the radio – and even some that remember the gardening series that I did for BBC Wales and SKY TV. There was Yvonne and Marilyn; Yvonne was very complimentary and had even been showing my photo to other exhibitors at the Show in order to find me. A very excited Yvonne claimed, “one young man said he didn’t know you but he wouldn’t mind an introduction!” She also asked after my bees, my pigs and asked if we were filming any more gardening programmes. Then there was Ian who came to ask about horticulture as a career as he hadn’t been able to make the talk I gave for the RHS about careers in horticulture. Admittedly my own ‘gardening path’ is a little unconventional as I set up my own business at 18 and later did my RHS qualifications by correspondence course whilst living in the Caribbean. Ian wondered if living in the Caribbean was an essential part of gaining horticultural qualifications! There was Brenda from Pencoed, who was lovely and Karen who explained she looks at my boots in my column photograph every week and wanted to know where I got them from. I think that’s the first time I have been asked for clothing advice – Gok Wan, watch out. They are Mountain Horse steel toe capped, slip-on boots (01070 PROTECTIVE JODHPUR boot) and are the best gardening and dog-walking boots I have found. I hope Karen gets as much wear out of hers as I do!
It was also great to meet enthusiastic gardeners Bev and Mike who have invited me to their garden in Blackwood which is open as part of the National Garden Scheme on the 25th, 26th and 27th May. Their journey along their own garden path is both inspirational and moving (ask them about Sally) and not only are they enthusiastic about their garden but they are great company too. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
As well as meeting new people it is always a great place to catch up with old friends and colleagues too and my mate Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins gave his seal of approval to my Green Room, agreeing with the importance of a including a ‘quiet green corner’ indoors in schools for kids to use. Chris has just launched Seedlets, his innovative gardening range for children aimed at three ability levels – Beginner (ages 3-5), Intermediate (ages 5-10) and Expert (ages 8-14). In his inimitable enthusiastic style he explained, “Today’s kids have lost touch with where their food comes from; it’s not their fault but I want to encourage them to sow it, grow it and eat it. I’m sure more kids would eat their greens if they grew them too!” For more details visit www.seedlets.com
And it was great to talk about dowsing with Toby Buckland. Another talk I gave involved a dowsing demonstration showing how carrying a mobile phone can decrease your energy field. I use dowsing a lot in my work and was delighted to discover that Toby Buckland is a huge fan of it too. He even had to complete a dowsing exam at his college as part of attaining his horticultural certification. We had a good chat about the uses for dowsing and it’s uncanny accuracy. We filmed the mobile phone dowsing demonstration and I’ll let you know where you can view it as soon as it’s ready. Massimo Salvata was the camera-man extraordinaire http://www.massimosalvato.com/ and captured some great footage of the dowsing and the Show which we will put online soon.
I have already had enquiries about installing the Green Room into the offices of a big insurance company and a local hospice; two GP’s are interested in using aspects of it in their waiting rooms and I am visiting two schools later this week to see how we can incorporate an indoor green space for the children to utilise as and when they want to. I have been encouraged hugely by people’s positive reactions and am particularly keen to encourage the inclusion of plants in indoor areas. The irony is that during a very busy and demanding Show with over 22 thousand visitors, the very green Room that I was promoting provided a relaxing and mindful space for us to use too – we all noticed just how effective it was being surrounded by lush green calming plants and to have bird song playing in the background. I am also using my Birdsong CD’s whilst I work at my computer – I am lucky enough to have the real thing outside but there is something very calming about having the cheeky chirps and tweets in the same room too! Try it yourself – it’s very effective.
Back out on the RHS Showground, one of the absolute stars of this year’s Show was Wade and Nichol Landscapes, who won a Gold medal for their very first Show Garden. Straight out of University in Sheffield, Vicky Wade and Andrew Nichol hot-footed it back to Wales to launch their new business and create a Show Garden for the Cardiff Show. They are a fabulous team who are quick to convey their appreciation of friends and family for their help and were also kind enough to lend me their drill during the build up! Not only did they win a gold medal but Vicky is also busy preparing for her wedding to landscape architect Joe in just 6 weeks. Far from worrying about floral arrangements or guest lists, Vicky confessed her biggest challenge was going to be her fingernails ….. and the sunburn that Joe got at Saturday’s Show. He was rather embarrassed about the vey red outline of where his sunglasses had been, bless him. It strikes me that Vicky is part of two very dynamic teams both with a very bright future – congratulations on all levels and good luck with the wedding plans.
As always though, it is the help and support from people involved with my Show Feature that always humbles me the most. This year I have worked with the nicest and most talented people and it has been an absolute pleasure. Daniel Crunden of http://www.hawkwoodandelm.co.uk/ helped ‘man’ the stand for the whole weekend and was enthusiastic and informative not only about his own beautiful bespoke furniture but the whole Green Room concept. David ‘Goff’ Eveleigh also helped out for the three days and launched his latest enterprise Open Window Videos which proved to capture people’s imagination. David is one of the most creative people I have met – we spent last year creating Labyrinths together and it’s lovely to be able to continue to work together on joint projects; see his latest work at http://www.youtube.com/user/OpenWindowVideo. Ed Elliott displayed his amazing hooded figures which visitors either loved or were scared to death of – personally I am in love with them all and would love to have one in each room of the house! See Ed’s work at http://www.edelliott.co.uk/home.html. Caerphilly Garden Centre provided beautiful foliage plants and stunning Snake’s Head Fritillaries and daffodils as well as the most authentic looking planters shaped like milk churns which were very popular (and much lighter than the real thing). You can find them at http://www.caerphillygardencentre.co.uk/ Tiger Turf provided the artificial grass which I wanted as a floor covering and Bedec Paints provided the paint for the interior of the building – their Multi Surface Paint is a fabulous find and will also transform all outdoor surfaces without primer or undercoat. And last but certainly not least, the garden building was provided by Allan Jones at Wood Direct (located at the Dutch Garden Centre at Cardiff Gate) http://wood-direct.co.uk/ and built and erected by the easy-going Rob Scott of South Wales Sheds in St Brides, Newport. Of course, my brother Ian helped bring it all together during the build up (and fed the pigs whilst I was away) and my brilliant Mum morphed into an Animal Aunt for the weekend allowing me to concentrate on the Show. I really feel blessed to have found such good products and be surrounded by such great people – it’s all very well coming up with new and innovative ideas but it is the support and enthusiasm from friends, colleagues and family that allows the ideas to become reality. A huge heartfelt thank you to you all.