I was bought tickets for Chelsea Flower show for a combined Xmas present last year and my birthday this year by my mum. This included a return coach trip, 3 nights accommodation (including breakfasts and evening meals), a trip to Kew gardens the following day, and the company of my mother in an initially somewhat enforced ( bad daughter!) mother/ daughter bonding session.
After worrying that I wouldn’t be able to read on the coach (I have been known to be dreadfully travel sick in the past), or get peace to read on the coach, I found that I could have my cake and eat it, to mix metaphors… indeed the front of the bus handed out so many sweets that I felt I was eating cake all the time!
I was the spring chicken of the group being the only one having less than half a century to my age, unfortunately not sure I was the most limber or lithe of the group, a sorry state of affairs; gardening is obviously a good way to keep going and stay relatively fit!( Note to self – must do more gardening!)
While Chelsea was a great day out, though the crowds did phase me some of the time, and pictures will follow in another post, it was Kew that held me captured, I loved the size, layout, ambiance and the number of things I could do – however we had from 10am till 3pm. It was never going to be enough. I could fill several days worth at Kew, and that’s without arranging to see the herbarium etc!
After a quick study of the maps I had my plan for the day, however reality quickly set in as sign posts measured distances between areas of interest in 10 mins, 15 mins, 20 mins etc….Not helped that I found all sorts of things interesting and kept getting waylaid by plants and labels that needed investigating! This included the botanical illustration and galleries – well worth a visit. I’m interested in these particularly after doing a term or 2 of ‘The Art of Herbs’ course at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh – check out their education programme: http://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/education-courses
I also hadn’t taken into account mum’s sore legs or the bruising and stiffness she’d sustained in a fall she had at Chelsea the previous day. Poor mum, I dragged her to the furthest point left of the gate for starters before I realised I was being a bad daughter (again!).
There is currently a theme to the gardens as they are pointing out, in very nice ways, the numerous ways plants have helped feed and heal us. Below are pictures of the healing ‘cart’ suspiciously like a snake oil salesman (which is not the image they are aiming for!) which depicts plants and constituents on the outside, pinned up remedies from the members of the public – a great way of collecting local ethnomedical knowledge, and potions and lotions and pieces to handle inside the cart. The cart tours the gardens, catch it if you can 🙂
This, of course, is right up my street, so I dragged mum over to the healing giant, the hot houses, the healing heroes section and the wonderfully designed arid and temperate greenhouses. We didn’t even manage to fit in the herbal healing talk I wanted to go to, or mum’s roses section, bad daughter (again!).
Check out my facebook page for pictures of the healing giant; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hedgetables/129478053902435
I think she realised how gripped I was in the throes of floral passion, as she even remembered that it was Botany that I’d first signed up to do at university many years ago, and was asking why I hadn’t followed through on it ( for those of you with any interest, it was the herbal side I was interested in even then, and university didn’t acknowledge that side of plant nature existed, also my chemistry wasn’t really up to the biochem. that I wanted to be involved with.)
We had a sociable lunch, talking with neighbours on park benches, avian as well as human…
I think my favourite part of the day was the greenhouses with the cacti in the arid section and the bromeliads in the following section of the greenhouses. They also housed carniverous plants, orchids, ferns etc in their own respective areas. The paths weaved in and out, up and down and created a wonderful investigative element to the planting.
more of the cacti photos on my own facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jill.tees
I even did some chocolate research! The shop at Kew had flavoured chocolate, as mum pointed out – can’t believe I didn’t see them! They supply ‘ChocAffair’. I tried out their Chilli (- coz it’s chilli and I had to! 🙂 mmm chilli nom nom nom!) and their Bergamot. I must say, I know it’s the competition and I’m being biased, but I wasn’t impressed. The Bergamot would be better suited to milk or white, as it was lost in the dark chocolate, and it wasn’t that dark, as they’re using the same dark chocolate as a base that I do (53.8%). The chilli is using ground up chilli powder in the chocolate, and as it’s not evenly ground up – you occasionally get too little, or too much, or left over dried skin flaky bits…The wrappers are a bit busy for my taste, but they do colour co-ordinate well with the flavours, though I do like their thicker foil wrapper on the inside of their paper/ card outer wrap. Hmm, bit more work and I think I’ll try talking to botanic gardens……
All in all I had a good birthday/ Christmas present, thanks mum.