Scotland is a gardener’s paradise – it’s a matter of flax

Still in recovery from the rigours of making my garden sufficiently presentable for its open day,  we’ve taken a few days off. Being a farming family we endlessly enjoy the British countryside so our holidays are invariably taken here in the UK.  With five of our seven dogs we are currently on the Isle of Islay in the Southern Hebrides, a rocky and windswept outpost of the British Isles with actually nothing between us and America. A less hospitable environment for creating a garden would be difficult to imagine. But put up a wall and something magical happens. The passing Gulf Stream provides a mild...

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Jack russells dusted; chickens briefed: the garden is open!

So the scene was set. Glasshouse (Alitex – the best!) was swept and decked out in bunting; Growbag sister Elaine was installed on plant sales; son’s girlfriend, Emily, was put in charge of tea and cakes (son couldn’t be trusted, it needs someone properly organised for this key role, ergo someone female); family friend Anne was installed on the gate; radio contact was established with the four other gardens open in the village that day and we were off ! A detectable frisson of nervousness ran around the team when we realised that we had been successful in getting our little village...

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Come on folks – get busy with the unicorn dung

What a splendid day we had at Chelsea!  The sun shone, the flowers amazed, and even the surprisingly LONG QUEUE TO WASH YOUR HANDS after the loo (!) did not deter us from enjoying our day (there was some disgracefully sexist talk in the line about how long men would queue for, to wash their hands). So what did I think?  I was pretty disappointed with most of the Show Gardens.  Too many had messy planting schemes, or very odd hard-landscaping.  I cannot see why a garden in Jordan, or Provence, or wherever it was that Andy Sturgeon was...

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Racy wives, silver medal sorrows and that Binny Plant stand…..

A 3.30pm entry ticket to the Chelsea Flower Show on the Tuesday is a thing of great joy. The early bird day-trippers are feeling weary and drift off home allowing you to tour the plantsman’s paradise that is the grand pavilion with relative ease and whilst the exhibits are still fresh and crisp from the previous day’s judging. After a reviving tea break you can then promenade around the outside show gardens in the evening sunshine. At 5.30 the atmosphere changes once again as the final tranche of show goers are allowed entry, and with only a couple of hours...

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