[caption id="attachment_731" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="trial fields at Thompson and Morgan"]
I had a very strange day that started with marvelling at stunted sunflowers in a rainy trial field by Ipswich. The rush of motorway traffic, made louder by the rain, dinned our ears. Pylons lurked and rain slanted down on a crowd of the horticulturally hooked . We put up umbrellas or hoods and carried on admiring. A few stats: there were 18 types of courgette being trialed: the yellow, marled, the round and no doubt an army of characteristics were on test. Of the 20 different tomato types, none were yet fruiting. Last year we had a famiy quest for the tastiest tomato. Black Krim won the prize for flavour, tomatoishness, if you will. It was an ugly looking thing.
Thompson and Morgan had no less than 19 types of foxglove, only half in flower. As a fan of the ordinary pink foxglove that roves around woodland, I give no votes to newcomers. I have put on or two into our garden and they lack the trumpet oumph.
What was really lovely to see were ornamental bedding with waves of really fabulous annuals to gawp at. I scribbled plant names down furiously for choosing for our garden next summer. We have got one large round bed that now gets the bedding treatment but in a scruffy wildy way. The look is rampaging meadow with black cornflowers, purple sclarey, orange poppies and devil in the fog-love in the mist, ie Nigella damascena
. I cut and cut to keep them flowering over several months.
Next year it will get a new mood foisted on it. I was wowed by the
following combination of Pennisetum Purple Emperor, Zinnia Purple Prince
and white cosmos. Pictured here, these are all big plants growing to over a metre. The pennisetum also looked really exciting co-planted with a very yellow marigold called Calendula Candyman Yellow.
The other combo of 3 that I have flagged up to plant together are Cosmos Double Click Cranberries
with Calendula Candyman Orange
. These for an orange marroon fusion made light and lacy by the delicate cosmos leaves.
Then there were the lily trees. I have never seen lilies taller than humans before and hurried past them as one pursued by triffids. But they could be a wow factor in a small courtyard garden. Made a note to do some research later as all the green shirted people of T and M looked rushed off their feet. But by the hanging walls there was a man who did know stuff and had time to chat. This is vegetable gardening in the vertical. And out of small green pouches were growing kale, beans, radishes, lettuces. Fix up an automatic watering system and here is gardening for the less mobile and any who don't
[caption id="attachment_736" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="wall-grown vegetables"]
want to be tied to daily watering. Also a good option where space is at a premium.
From here I took a train to London and a few hours later was admiring a scaled down model of some town that could be Sao Paolo, could be London and should not be sat upon. The floating bath duck seems to have become part of the national psyche. Anyway it's Festival Brazil, all over the South Bank and including the Hayward Gallery's exhbition of work by Ernst Neto.
The aptly named Neto works with a polyamide tulle fabric. He has taken over the top floor of the gallery and hooks attach his stretchy, softly dyed material to the walls. Stones and weighted bunches of herb seeds draw it down to the ground. The works take in the two balconies and include a donut grey swimming pool, complete with his and her changing tents. Had I known, I could have gone swimming round and round up in London's rooftops on a very hot day.
[caption id="attachment_744" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Ernst Neto"]
Insteead, it was relaxing to lounge around inside like a baby in a giant play pen with soft shrouding fabrics with signs that gave permission to touch, smell and lie on. But was this art?
From there a stroll along the south bank of the Thames to the Globe. A family gathering not to taste tomatoes but to see Henry VIII. The Globe is a copy of the theatre that Shakespeare had built on this spot. I love it because it looks just like the pictures in my old battered school-books. A spectacle indeed but a pox upon Wolsey, from Ipswich, for mumbling.