Monday, 4 February 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: Olympics Fever Hits Sussex Gardens


Great Gardens of Sussex, an organisation which unites five of the county's most spectacular visitor attractions, is organising an extravaganza for May half-term 2008. This is the second Olympics-related garden event I've heard about this year, and it's only the 4th of February.

If you are failing to see the link between the Olympics and British gardening, perhaps you haven't been spending enough time doing Bunny Guinness's new garden workout.

On the other hand, maybe you just don't realise the immense passion
aroused by China amongst English horticulturalists. Tree experts in
particular can get a little bit overcome about the whole idea of the
riches that are still to come from China - let alone what already
arrived during the previous three centuries of travel.

Even though it sounds like I'm making fun of it a bit, I think the
extravanganza idea is growing on me. We are really unaware of how many
of our garden favourites come from China. We also tend not to know the
exciting stories of the collectors who shinned up trees, fell into
bogs, and generally skinned their knees to bring plants back. The idea
of linking the five gardens at Leonardslee, Wakehurst, High Beeches, Nymans and Borde Hill
is particularly good because they used a lot of the same collectors
(three of the gardens belonged to members of the Loder family). So a
visit to more than one of these gardens will give a real sense of
increasing returns, as each garden will fill in a little bit more of
the story.

All in all I'm quite happy to celebrate the Beijing Olympics by going
around some Sussex gardens. Just don't ask me to do any of Bunny
Guinness's weird flowerpot lifting exercise regimes.

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