My friend Frenchie of Moat Farm Flowers is big into cut flowers. She lives up here in Suffolk and is growing and selling beautiful blooms for weddings and the like. A Dahlia Show at Wisley? We gasped with excitement and made the date to go together. She for the learning and I for the gawping.
Here is a brief resumee of our day out. The car-park was a-flurry on arrival at my usual breakfast time - probably because Mary Berry was celebrising the day. Made mental note not to get distracted by her. But round the corner, there she was with an
astonishing cake. Photo, I swear, is just here for my mother to enjoy. She loves MB. Equally photogenic was the lawn. The groundsmen must have borrowed scissors from the nail parlour.
It was a little bit annoying that the judges had barricaded themselves into the Dahlia Marquee. No entrance till mid-day. We consoled ourselves with a bit of botanising and made straight for the Oudolf borders. On a grass recce we found that we had
fallen for Pennisetum macrourum
. A photo gives no indication of the gracious movement of the plant. The seed heads of the phlomis were exceptional too. So much for growing plants for their blooms. James Hitchmough’s perennial meadow had
undergone a mighty collapse and suspect that the Silphium peroliatum
lies behind this. Inside that mighty big glass house the Ravenala madagascariensis
had done no such thing as collapse - in fact it is threatening to get right through the roof.
It was our big day out in Surrey and so we succumbed to the retail side of the show. Tiptoeing into the spend with a packet of seeds of Lablab purpueus
. This is a black bean from southern Ethiopia that the cattle eat. I must believe the man from
Highdown Nursery. We eyed up some sedum planty things that looked like a course from the Fat Duck. We were both filled with longing but kept our wallets shut. At the stand by www.plantbelles.co.uk
we lost control and bought some very heavy iron hoops which will translate into a tunnel for brassicas once I have ordered mesh and persuaded a friend to sew up the hem of the stuff. Armed with the hoops and a heavy iron boot rack, we clashed our way to the Dahlia Tent, winging people with metal and eternally apologising.
Dahlia amazia? Well, up to a point but the flowers were so big and showy that I really felt I was looking at dressed up watermelons. And I have no idea why but the floor of the tent was boggy and covered in straw. Surely they had not been storing cattle here? The world of showing seems to turn on the bigger the better and we soon found we were suffering from a surfeit of samey blooms. No matter though, we had got our thrills elsewhere.