Leaning close and barely breathing, he finely tuned the fishcakes

Went to London to speak at the RHS Shows Launch.

This is a press junket in order to announce the highlights of all the flower shows from Cardiff in April to Tatton Park in July (not forgetting the monthly shows in London). I was speaking, briefly, about the Malvern Spring Show which is a particular favourite of mine.

Others talked about their gardens at the various shows, nurseries explained their new varieties etc,etc. The whole thing lasted over two hours which was a little on the long side – my buttocks were thoroughly anaesthetised by then.

Highlights to look forward to (or not) include: my energetic friend Chris Beardshaw is doing gardens at Malvern (rural crafts), Chelsea (homage to Hidcote Manor) and Hampton Court (education and green spaces for children). He is also moving house and his girlfriend is having their second child. Lunatic man – as I have often told him but he is incapable of sitting down (I think he sleeps with his eyes open while suspended from a coat hanger). He showed 117 slides.

An American lady called Lesley doing a Chinese garden at Chelsea.

Jinny Blom and Laurent Perrier doing something that could be rather lovely. I didn’t like her very white garden last year very much.

Claire Whitehouse is designing the Centrepoint garden at Hampton Court.

There was also a presentation by Marshalls (the paving stone people) who are sponsoring Chelsea for the next three years. At the Garden Writers Guild thing in November (see archive) I expressed a light hearted concern that it was a bit odd having Marshalls when the RHS were campaigning so hard to protect front gardens (for sound environmental reasons) from being paved over while seeking lots of money from the company most likely to benefit from that very paving.Anyway that caused a very minor furore – which was quite exciting for about 20 minutes. Their presentation went some way to allaying suspicions – they are sound on ethics having refused to import Indian sandstone from quarries where child labour is used. (Although the cynical would wonder where those children have gone – the next quarry down the road, probably – and what Marshalls are doing to help make up the shortfall in their families’ incomes).

There was a lot of stuff about Sustainability. A good buzz word. A bench made from sustainable sources uses wood from trees that are are replaced by newly planted ones – therefore creating a sustainable chain of supply.What, exactly is a sustainable paving stone, do you think ? I’m sure that I will bump into someone from Marshalls somewhere and they will tell me. In the meantime I have just specified that only Marshalls Indian Stone should be used on two jobs of mine so I am trying to do my bit to support their ethics.

I am listening to Red Beans by Professor Longhair and the picture is of a lonely January rosebud.