Lately I’ve been making lots of lists. And while lists of things “to do” are nothing unusual, especially at this time of year, one list I’ve been adding to and working on is my list of things to do in the second half of my life. It seems that turning 50 last December has got me thinking about all the things I have been meaning to do.
I’m happy to report that skydiving is not on my list, but something that surprised me was a desire to tour English gardens. And that is exactly what Charlotte and I have done. We’re just back from a nine-day trip to the south of England: Devon to Sussex, with a dash of London thrown in for spice.
Initially we planned to attend the Chelsea Flower Show in London, but thought to expand our tour to include as many RHS and National Trust gardens as we could fit in while visiting Charlotte’s two aunts.
Flower gardening in England is a contact sport. And nowhere is this more evident than at the Chelsea Flower Show. The first thing that is overwhelmingly obvious is the crush of humanity that has traveled not only across England to attend, but the world— all to see the latest in design trends and the newest varieties. While the display gardens that ring the main pavilion and center grounds of the historic Chelsea Hospital are impressive, it was the displays of flowers in the main pavilion that impressed us most as growers.
A massive display of sweet peas was impossible to ignore. The range of colors was staggering, not to mention the stem length—some of them up to 18 inches tall! Other notable floral displays were of digitalis, dianthus and delphinium. A pyramid-shaped display of lilies that easily measured 20 feet at its base and 10 feet tall was outstanding. Superlatives escape me; it’s difficult to describe the enormity and awesomeness of the show. It was a humbling, sensory feast for a couple of lowly flower growers from rural Virginia.
On a quieter note, viewing gardens in England is a treat for the mind and body, and very stimulating for our creative nature. We came home full of ideas for our landscape, and we’ll be looking for the new flower varieties we were privy to see at Chelsea.
If you can’t add touring English gardens to your to do list any time soon, please be sure to put “ Attend An ASCFG Regional Meeting” at the top of your list this summer.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting will be held on Monday, August 27th (the Monday before Labor Day), in Jeffersonton, Virginia at Wollam Gardens. Bob Wollam has graciously agreed to host this years meeting, and I have to say, after visiting Bob a couple of weeks ago, his farm is beautiful— in fact, very English! We have a great program lined up for the day and Bob will be showing off his amazing crop of Karma dahlias. I hope to see you there.
So, what’s on your life’s “To Do” list? Don’t have one yet? Maybe starting one ought to take priority. After all, what’s the point of growing all of those beautiful flowers if you don’t take a moment to smell them?