Of course we enjoy the show gardens too, even if you need strong and sharp elbows to get a closer look. Here's the winning garden by the Swedish landscape architect, Ulf Nordfjell. He won last year too, and to me this 2009 version wasn't that different. Also I couldn't help but wonder where all the Finnish garden designers were?
I preferred the Laurent-Perrier Garden (I would, wouldn't I?) because it had more dramatic colour combinations. The designer looks pretty hot too. And he's Italian. What more can I say?
OK, I could say that he's used deep red Paeonia 'Buckeye Belle', Aquilegia 'Ruby Port' and Iris 'Black Swan' and the deep purple 'Superstition' amongst evergreen grasses. And that the effect was stunning.
He'd also used classic lines of yew trees with box hedging. There was flowing water on white gravel. This is the kind of garden I'd like to wander through. My friend pointed out you'd not be able to walk under the trees because of the wide water features. Ah well, practicalities are so boring.
Which brings me onto the Quilted Velvet Garden. Though striking, we were left wondering how one could make one's way into the restful snug at the centre of the display. Answers in comments please!
When I saw the Cancer Research Garden I didn't think much of it, a bit too showy, but the pictures came out very well.
Back to the lack of lunch. In the past we've been to the wonderful Italian restaurant on Lower Sloane Street, Caraffini. We were early adopters at Tom Aiken's in Elystan Street, as well as at Oriel's near Sloane Street tube station. It all started with the innocent question, 'Do you have to be back for the children today?' And the first unbooked lunch (I forget where it was now) was probably the best. I ended up staying the night in London and the tradition was born.
But the best of traditions need to be broken sometime. And yesterday was just such a time. As I sat on the train home to Wiltshire, eating my take-away sushi, I did miss the first glass of wine and the anticipation of an excellent meal and laughter with my dear friend.
A clear head and light pocket next day is no consolation: in 2010 the Chelsea Flower Show with lunch -tradition will have to be restored. We are Finnish after all!