I've been thinking a lot over the last week about praising and bitching. I bitched about the Porsche garden, I'm perfectly prepared to admit it. There's something enjoyable about occasionally digging into something you don't like. And the internet just encourages bitching - it's always easier to provoke comments from readers when they don't agree with you than when they do.
But on the other hand, the reason why we all garden is delight, surely? That smile that comes over your face when you see something that utterly charms you. I saw a lot of smiles this year at the Hampton Court Flower Show, despite the rain and the number of people and the much-discussed merits of the year in general. And the people enjoying themselves most of all were the huge groups of schoolchildren invited because of the Dorset Cereals Edible Playground and Year of Reading gardens.
After the austere formality of Chelsea, having bundles of children milling about laughing and mucking about was really good fun. A performance artist dressed as "Where's Wally?" went tearing past at one point pursued by a small herd of yelling seven-year olds who clearly
felt a carnival atmosphere. Running after the pack with considerably more effort was their teacher. "Did you know that's where bread came from?" asked a teacher in the Dorset cereals garden. "No, miss," said her pupil, looking intrigued at the growing wheat. "I could live in
that shed!" shouted one over-excited boy.
So here are some of the things (apart from the hordes of kids saying funny things) that made me laugh out loud and smile at this year's Hampton Court. Unfortunately I haven't got a photo of this: at about five o'clock, it started to absolutely bucket down with rain and I spent 45
minutes sheltering in the rose marquee in the company of several nice people including Independent Urban Gardener and Chelsea gold medal-winner Cleve West. Among the smell of rose blossom we watched the rain achieve exhilarating speeds, sluicing down over the door of
the marquee in sheets. So here's some things that made me smile this week:
Hemerocallis "Joan Senior" with Heucherella "Stoplight"
"Rave On" Heuchera from Solva - heucheraholics.co.uk
Calls into question the inevitability of Shakespearean romance: could it all have ended differently?
The Homebase Garden, Silver-Gilt
Warwickshire College's roof garden, Silver Flora
Culm View nurseries
Salvia "Hot Lips"
The Museum of Garden History's wonderful seventies shed: complete with spacehopper. Took me right back to the summer of 1976.