1. Ash: It’s been a slow burner for the press after we first reported it in UK on 6 June.
One of the problems with the late reporting of the ash story is the lack of environmental reporters at newspapers. The Guardian has John Vidal and Independent has Mike McCarthy. But both don’t really do day-to-day reporting on enviro news, preferring investigations into their hobby horses. The Mail’s David Derbyshire left, and now a second replacement after Tamara Cohen is in place. Neither has an enviro background. At The Telegraph and Times it’s the same story post Charles Clover and Val Elliott. This means there are no environment news reporters who know their patch on any newspapers. So no-one noticed that ash dieback was a big story for five months after HW reported it in June. The HTA say they didn’t know it was in UK until mid July.
2. Spotted: Anneka Rice sunglasses getting on a bus in Hammersmith. Lookalikes: Diarmuid. Rory Gallagher.
3. Simon Wheeler, chairman of the Independent Wimbledon Supporters Association, will not be there to see AFC Wimbledon v K Dons, the club that ran away with Wimbledon’s name and took it to Milton Keynes a decade ago. AFC started again and is now in the football league. They meet for the first time in FA Cup second round this month. Wheeler: “This has reopened a lot of scars. We never wanted this to happen and frankly I feel numb. I won’t be going and I know lots of other fans won’t be going. Personally I would rather take my girlfriend’s mother to the garden centre than go to that game.”
4. Guardian cricket hack (and former England bowler) Mike Selvey is running this ‘masterclass’ in cricket journalism (aimed at people learning how to write cricket better) course on how to be a cricket hack. I started in cricket journalism in the UK in 2001. One day in Lord’s press box, an elderly cricket hack called Norman de Mesquita decided I had ‘taken his job’. He started a campaign of muttering in the press box, which Selvey and others joined in. I had written about Andrew Strauss “conducting his innings well”, so some critcism was justified. De Mesquita wrote to David Green, then head of a cricket writers’ clique. Green was also enthusiastic in wanting to uphold high standards. The letter was read out. I called my Cricinfo boss Stephen Lamb, who told de Mesquita to pipe down. A bashful De Mesquita offered me a Fox’s glacier mint to patch things up in true overgrown schoolboy fashion. Selvey is still writing 68-word, nine clause opening sentences.
6. BBC emailed me to say Monty Don was “on the verge of a new contract” rather than having signed one, as I wrote in last blog. Monty’s been tweeting about BBC management, gunning for BBC management changes.
A correspondent jokes: “Monty is spot on, the BBC management are incompetent, they think he is a gardening expert.”
7. Watch out for garden centre Christmas flash mobs.
8. At Society of Garden Designers awards last week.
Andrew Fisher Tomlin will be at Ellerslie Flower Show in Christchurch in New Zealand, designing two gardens with the Harfleets. AFT says care homes is where it’s at for garden designers.
9. Also at SGD, talk about Tim Richardson critical column referring to London College of Garden Design in Garden Design Journal. LCGD students/tutors won awards at the event. TR stood to applaud Andrew Wilson’s. GDJ editor Jackie Bennett apologised for TR’s reference “slipping through the editing process” in the next issue of GDJ.
10. Denise van Outen and Alisher Usmanov-supplied by one Kent grower. Awards sponsored by von Ehren. No mention of ash or tree imports getting banned. Or indeed the departure of Charles Rutherfoord as SGD chair. Raymond Blanc was a guest. Liver not on menu.
11. John Brookes’ message was that garden designers want to be seen as architects rather than horticulturists. He told me he’s getting too old for all this. “People expect me to say something.”
His speech: “I’m in awe of Charles Jencks. I don’t understand his philosophy. It’s no good, I’m not an academic. But I do agree with it.”
He said on the marriage of architecture and horticulture Jencks has “already done it”.
Too often garden design is driven by “unsophisticated public taste”.
“Too often the teaching of landscape and garden philosophy is much too superficial often driven by horticulture alone. Charles Jencks can lead us to a far deeper meaning.”
12. More from SGD. David Dodd is a regular in Millwall FC’s directors’ box. James Alexander Sinclair told a story about garden design “does anybody need that doing?” He said: “It’s not essential for the survival of mankind. Garden designers make the world beautiful. Landscape architects make it easier to park.”
Lots of hacks there. Lots to fill next SGD journal. Listing awards. TR having a go at awards. News of award winners.
13. Latest to announce a RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden is Willerby Landscapes, which is building Robert Myers’ Brewin Dolphin garden. Other gardens include Jinny Blom/Sentebale/B&Q, Landform building for Adam Frost/Homebase and Nigel Dunnett/RBC, Roger Platts/M&G, Christopher Bradley-Hole/Telegraph, Ulf Nordjfell/Laurent Perrier, Chris Beardshaw, James Wong, Michael Balston, Diarmuid Gavin and Jo Thompson. Other gardens are to be announced on 29 November. The RHS said it is keen to stop any more names of designers being released before then. The 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 21-25 May 2013.
14. Max Davidson’s effort to borrow from the Mail piece on Harry here name checks Hort Week. But he gets the name wrong.
15. English Garden School courses:
Robert Myers – Going for Chelsea Gold
Kate Gould – Small and City Gardens
Laetitia Maklouf – How to make a Garden and still have a life!
Tom Stuart-Smith, Luciano Giubbilei, Xa Tollemache – Garden Makers Day
Pattie Barron – Garden Writing:
Day One – Each student should arrive with a prepared short piece (about 600 words) describing what is special about a particular garden – their own, one that they have visited, a small back garden or public park. Each piece will be used as a way of explaining how to immediately grab the reader’s attention and ways of making the text come alive. The importance of good grammar, sentence construction and correct horticultural spelling will be emphasised. Copy will then be used as a springboard for talking about the principles of garden writing, incorporating short exercises on describing an outstanding garden feature and the skill in putting over the facts, avoiding excessive use of flowery adjectives such as ‘gorgeous’ and ‘pretty’.
I’d never thought about using the words gorgeous and pretty too much.
16. To keep Historic Houses Association members in the trade stands area at QE11 centre during their annual event last week, a prize draw of a case of champagne was on offer. “It’s rather good champagne” added outgoing president Edward Harley. Newby Hall owner Richard Compton is to succeed Harley as president of the HHA. Harley, who owns Brampton Bryan Hall, served a four-year term. Attendance is pretty good at the event. A cursory glance around me and I spotted Henry Scrope, Lord Douro, Lord Crathorne, Lady Erskine, Lady Stucley, Viscount Hereford, the Earl of Ronaldsay and new National Trust DG Helen Ghosh.
Much garrumping about VAT increases on repairs to members’ houses. Loyd Grossman gave a tub thumping speech. Harley was quite droll, especially about him being 6’8’’ standing next to the Queen.
17. Every six years, the National Trust elects ‘appointing bodies’. John Lewis joined the likes of Prince’s Trust and Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings this year. Countryside Alliance lost out by fewer than 600 votes to the retailer. Hunting ‘n shooting Robin Page was re-elected to council, as was ex chief vet Debby Reynolds.
18. My colleague who sits next to me received an invitation to Ideal Home Show Young Gardeners of the Year 2013 from Stuart Higgins PR on behalf of Prince’s Foundation Garden Competition. I judged this last year.
19. At launch of Steve Ween’s Pothole Gardener book the other day. The book made the news pages of the papers a couple of years ago, then the gardening pages. Was in Chelsea Fringe this year. Why is this so often the case? Speaking to Tim Richardson’s partner Claire: MA “Do you work with Miranda Hart?” CW: “No, it was Jo Brand.”
20. Sutton’s Seeds and Viggo:
Being an avid fan of Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn from Lord Of The Rings), it was no surprise that during a book signing at the BFI Film Festival last year in London, Francijn Suermondt the PR Executive for Suttons Seeds grabbed the opportunity to pass him her Suttons Seeds PR business card. On the back of the card she had written to ask him if he would be happy for Suttons to name a flower mix after his favourite football team, and that all the proceeds would go to helping youth football teams in the UK with no sponsorship.
Two months later Fran was amazed to receive a postcard from Viggo stating that he would be honoured if we named the new Petunia mix ‘CASLA’ (Club Atletico San Lorenzo De Almagro) which is his favourite team based in Argentina where he grew up as a child. And he would like the mix to be in the blue and red colours of the San Lorenzo shield.
At the 2012 BFI Film Festival in London on October 20th, Mr Mortensen was presented with his very own packet of CASLA seeds. He has since written all about the seeds and Suttons in his column on the San Lorenzo Official Football Club website, in which he stated ‘This is a priceless gift. You can imagine the amount of English people that will sow blue and red emblems in their gardens next year…………’