In May I was lucky enough to have a stand at Chelsea Flower Show displaying our fountain pens - Plooms - alongside my flower books.
I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to be there during the build up and to see the gardens in the first early light. Meeting Diarmuid Gavin as he watered his garden one morning we fell into conversation.
What I really wanted to say was that when my daughters first met their now step-father, Billy Kelly, they said: "We knew he was Irish and we knew you like Diarmuid Gavin so we thought he would look a bit like him." (So far so good) "Then we came in and saw a tramp sitting on the sofa."
My lovely husband is not known for his sartorial elegance!
This is how the conversation actually went with Diarmuid:
Nice garden," I said. "Thank you," he said.One of the best parts about Chelsea was seeing old friends. Those who visited and those that helped on the stand, including Claire Foster who runs the wonderful Green Pavilion flower shop in Buxton, Derbyshire.
And proudest moments? There were two. First when Kazuyuhi Ishihara, who designed my favourite garden, came on the stand and bought a number of my prints. Secondly when a girl of about 20 spotted my books and asked "is it you?" She went on to explain that my books had inspired her to be a florist. And now she had just won a medal in the floral design marquee for her arrangement. (I have to admit I cried)
Exhibiting at Chelsea convinced me to start blogging about flower again. I had not quite realised how much I had missed talking to people about them.
So here, after a bit of an absence is my first post.
A visit to Hampton Court Flower Show.
We arrived on a grey morning after huge queues to the car park, but once we were in the grounds it was if the sun realised it really ought to get its act together and start shining. There was so much to see - there is lots more room than Chelsea - and of course you are never far from wonderful views of the waterways and the Palace.Here are a few of my highlights.
I loved the Vegetable and Flower Boxes that give inspiration for even the smallest garden. These two photos are from the Gold winning display created by Alton Infant School. Their display of "Growing to Eat, Eating to Grow" took different recipes that the children and parents had contributed and planted out the ingredients you would need. Above, Strawberry Lemonade. Below, Herb Omelette.
In addition to the Floral Marquee there was the Festival of Roses marquee set aside exclusively for ...well... roses. Even on a good day this was quite muddy underfoot - so I really hope that the weather keeps fine for everyone.
The roses were fabulous, despite the very strong smell of damp mud!
A floral arch from Peter Beale Roses.The roses from The Real Flower Company are always a treat. They were close to us at Chelsea and I would go over to their stand and just take a deep breath whenever I wanted to enjoy their fabulous scented display.
The RHS award their medals on a huge number of criteria. I have gone for just 3 awards of my own.1. Most like to be when sharing a bottle of wine with my family
This goes to The Viking Cruises' Scandinavian Garden
- which basically is a beach with a driftwood fire
2. Most like to be when sharing a bottle of wine with my best friend
This goes to Cherry Carmen's Immerse Garden.
What you cannot see from my photo is that water is flowing down all the walls of the sunken garden
3. Most like to be when on my own with a book and a glass of wine
(I think you can see there is a common theme to my awards!)
This goes to Inner City Grace.
Very calming. Very Sauvignon Blanc.
And I could not leave Hampton Court Flower Show without mentioning the school's Scarecrow Competition. This year this had a distinctly space age theme
Tim Peake would have felt right at home!