National Flower Beds – RHS Tatton

Birmingham City Council - 'Birmingham's Iconic Mini'
Birmingham City Council - 'Birmingham's Iconic Mini'

One of the reasons I have wanted to go to RHS Tatton Park Flower Show for a number of years is a desire to see the municipal bedding displays.  Not that I am a huge fan of these sort of horticulture but I have a perverse curiosity to see them in real life.

Harlech WI - ' Spirit of Harlech'
Harlech WI - ' Spirit of Harlech'

I think this sort of planting is peculiar to the UK, but I’m happy to stand corrected.  For my overseas readers a quick explanation.  Municipal bedding stems from Victorian times when the councils and local authorities would create amazing displays from annual bedding plants.  This form of horticultural display is still practiced by local authorities and in large public gardens.

Cheshire East Council - 'Queens Park - The Story Continues'
Cheshire East Council - 'Queens Park - The Story Continues'

The displays generally reflect something about the area from which they come.  So Birmingham has created a display around the Mini car  which was produced in Birmingham until October 2000.  Though I do wonder about the sanity of the person who first came up with the idea of covering a car with bedding!  St Helier have celebrated the Jersey Royal Potato by creating a steep potato field along with farmer all out of bedding.  I quite liked Harlech’s steam train, though maybe some steam or smoke would have finished it off and gained a few more points.

Parish of St Helier - 'A Celebration of the Jersey Royal Potato'
Parish of St Helier - 'A Celebration of the Jersey Royal Potato'

I was really impressed at the work that must go into these displays.  There is the planning, working out how many plants will be required and growing them on. I think a lots of the bedding is planted in advance in trays so the roots mesh together. It must take a lot of dedication and I am sure the creators take a lot of pride in their work.

Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (one end)
Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (one end)

 

Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (the other end)
Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (the other end)

The winner of Best Exhibit in the National Flower Bed Competition was the one from Bournemouth Borough Council (above).  The bed sets out to demonstrate the contrasting literature, art and architecture of Bournemouth’s Victorian era.  As you can see it was very well executed.

I can’t get excited about this sort of planting but I do admire the workmanship and skill that is involved in creating them.

 

The irritations of Spring

It’s been a stunning week weather wise.  The temperatures here in Malvern have been around 18/19C the last couple of days.  The garden has visibly filled out in front of my eyes to the extent that my peonies are obviously taller when I get home than when I went to work that morning.

I stopped off on the way home to pick up some vegetable seeds for the allotment which I hadn’t bought before since I didn’t think we would clear the whole plot this year.  However, my enthusiastic parents have cleared the whole plot so now I have more space to fill with veg.  Having found the packets of Squash, Cabbage and Parsnips I wanted I noticed that there were a lot of bedding plants available.  In this case they were plug plants for people to pot up but I know that many of the big DIY stores are already stocking bedding plants to plant out.  This makes me so cross.  My local garden centre has their plug plants clearly labelled as needing to be potted up and hardened off but the big stores aren’t so helpful.  I am sure there will be people this weekend who fooled by the unseasonably warm weather will go and buy bedding plants only to lose them in a couple of weeks when the weather returns to its usual cooler temperatures. My cynical side says that they do this deliberately to get more sales!!

Rant over, it is interesting that some of the plants in the garden are a good couple of weeks ahead of last year when we had a very late start to Spring.  I have already had species Tulipa biflora in flower and now I have some red tulips about the open.  I don’t know what variety this is.  Over recent years I buy bulbs of one or two varieties of tulip which I plant up in pots to cheer up the front door and patio.  Then the following year I plant out the bulbs in the borders as I can’t bear to throw them away.  I know people say they don’t do well in the second year but I don’t agree.  I do get the odd blind one but generally they flower quite well and they all add to the spring display.  These red tulips have been in the ground for at least 3 years and seem to be actually improving year on year.

Vandalised Primulas
Vandalised Primulas

Finally I would like to express despair at the way the finches in my garden have a penchant for primrose flowers.  They sit by the plants, peck  off the flowers and throw them on the ground.  I can only assume they are after the nectar but it would be nice if I could enjoy the Primulas instead of waiting for the buds to open and then coming home to vandalism.  Maybe I should issue the birds with ASBOs!!

The weather is meant to be getting cooler over the weekend and returning to temperatures more normal for this time of year.  I hope it doesn’t get too much cooler as this weather has made me feel quite positive and cheery.