Sweetpeas in Guardian, Prince Harry, £250 or a trophy?, cake and eating it
1. Sweetpeas in The Guardian. I rang lots of people for this piece. Hope that comes across. Generally doesn’t in most gardening pieces that there’s been much talking to experts going on. Usually the writer styles self as expert. Is this right?
Also, much annoyance from me about allotment plots getting ‘borderline’ notices. Several of my allotment neighbours (and me) at Merton Martin Way have received them after a crackdown by new allotment committee. Is this the way ahead as councils give up looking after allotments, leaving them to over-zealous committee types.
2. RHS Chelsea Flower Show…think Prince Harry. Also Chris Beardshaw for Chelsea. On his 780km 21,000m ascent cycle ride round the Alps he was about 200 out 600 so was “well chuffed. He is trying to find another excuse to do something similar”. See charity link. There’s loads more in this week’s Hort Week. Adam Frost for Homebase. Think I’ve got nearly all show gardens sponsors/designers now. Adam Frost is designing for Homebase after beating three other designers to the job. Roger Platts M&G, James Wong, Michael Balston, Nigel Dunnett is designing for Royal Bank of Canada.
The Daily Telegraph Christopher Bradley-Hole, Ulf Nordjfell’s Laurent Perrier garden. Flemons Warland is also rumoured to be designing a show garden. Jamie Dunstan. Hillier have linked with Beazley for another year. Diarmuid Gavin applied late but is set to return.
3. I didn’t realise, because I haven’t won for so long, but the Garden Media Guild has quietly dropped the £250 prize money it used to give. I’m told “the feeling among recent committee members has been that £250 was not enough to excite whereas a trophy would have lasting, if not intrinsic, value. No doubt the trophies cost less than the prize cheques but I wouldn’t be sure that the change was primarily a cost- saving measure. But it is obviously true that the loss of the cash prize matters more than the Committee thought it would so a bit of lobbying might bring it back.”
Lack of cash is clearly an issue, hence fee paying members don’t need to have journalism and/or gardening qualifications. The awards used to break even or made a small profit with every award winner receiving a £250 cash prize until three years ago. The event is a good idea, to bring industry sponsors and garden writers together. But GMG doesn’t do much else and doesn’t do much to promote good garden writing, especially given some of the awful winners I’ve seen get their gongs – you know who you are. Awards are on 29 November. Free invitations in short supply I’m told. Tables £1,450.
4. See Anne Wareham has upset Yellow Book National Garden Scheme so much she has been kicked out of showing her plot, Veddw. While this is a brave effort in writing in the Spectator about NGS gardens being no good, as I well know, you can’t have your cake and eat it.
5. “My name is Tim Bates; I’m a journalist with the Medway Centre for Journalism. I’m writing an article about how garden centres across Britain are coping with the economic downturn, as well as this year’s poor summer.” If anyone wants to help.
6. RHS autumn shows have been split into two. RHS are looking for ideas for future monthly shows in single hall after Lawrence is sold off. Veg orchestra. 23-24 Oct at Lindley Hall( 50) shades of autumn.
7. At HTA conference this month, Hillier MD Andy McIndoe said on Downton Abbey Maggie Smith’s character talking to Edith (jilted at the altar) had said ‘I’ll take up gardening’. U can’t be that desperate, said Dame Maggie. AM: “We’ve got to get over that.”
Also at HTA, New Economics Foundation wonk Andrew Simms suggested national gardening leave as some sort of statutory unpaid holiday. Everyone works four days and has a spare day to spend in the garden. He talks about Hackney and growing on a Budgens roof in North London. So no connection to most people’s reality there then. But fits well with the most vocal gardening media types.
8. Nicholas Marshall can’t talk about Garden Centre Group. But he’s not ruled out a return to garden retailing. Industry worry is an ‘outsider’ taking over at GCG. An even bigger worry is GCG getting split and depressing market for GCGs devaluing everyone’s centres. More likely GCG will buy lots of centres for good $, GCG’s new chairman Stephen Murphy tells me. He says its BS when most centres talk up ambitions to buy because they haven’t got £100m funds.
9. Garden Retail awards on 7 November. The presenter is a secret but he will say what he sees.