I was lucky enough to enjoy a stunning day of people watching at the Chelsea Flower Show yesterday, one of the last and great bastions of Middle England. It's been invaded somewhat by the trendy wendy set but beneath the glitz there is enough there to warm the soul, even if the Hampton Court Show is now the favoured destination for the genuine garden lover.
The joy of Chelsea though, is it's almost as much fun watching the people as it is looking at the the plants and gardens. From the Chelsea wives in £300 Jimmy Choo's, whose idea of a garden is something their maids sweep up at the back of the house in the evening, to the robust matrons of the Women's Institute who stride around with a Churchillian sense of purpose in linen skirt, blouse, pearls and very sensible shoes. The Japanese appear to be the ones who truly appreciate the aesthetics of individual flowers, yet the Germans seem baffled and bemused by this English obsession. A new entrant in the people category are the school cap and lederhosen brigade; I've never seen so many camp couples mincing around. Goodness knows what the retired Colonels make of it all.
My particular interest at these things are not the flowers and gardens but the tools, gadgets, mowers and choppy, cutty things. I was going to write a wee sketch about it but I see Judith Woods in the Telegrapgh has beaten me to it. It's one of those, "I wish I wrote that," pieces and she's spot on. Here it is................
"Lawns appeal to men of every stripe
The Chelsea Flower Show always raises my spirits. Yet although my husband claims to be a gardener, he remains unmoved. This is because when i am gardening, I am weeding or planting. When my husband says he is gardening he is ripping things up, hacking things off, and destroying anything he can reach with a swipe of his shears or a wave of his strimmer.
Flowers under this system are for cissies; it's the lawn that makes you the man. That's why, whenever middle aged men are gathered together in our neighbourhood, there is one topic of conversation: perennial rye, smooth stalked meadow, creeping red fescue.
Recently, I became baffled as to why my herbaceous border was wilting when he was out there every evening, assiduously watering the garden. Then I watched as he lovingly tended the greensward for 20 minutes, turned the tap off - and went inside."
She's nailed it............ could have been written by Mrs Flashbang herself.