Monty Don's Trousers

We were lucky enough to be given tickets for the preview day  of the Hamptons Court Palace Flower Show,and  got to see the BBC filming for their coverage later this week. Here's Monty Don and Joe Swift getting ready for a cosy chat.

Monty Don's trousers are an endless source of fascination for me. He always seems to be wearing the same ones. Doubtless organic fairly traded cotton, the creased blue suit has become a kind of uniform, underpinned when demonstrating work in the garden by elastic braces of the kind my grandad used to wear, I notice the braces come off for interviews. Time was, a man taking off his trouser braces in public would be time to make yourself scarce, but Monty doesn't strike me as a fisticuffs type. But I do wonder if he has a huge gothic wardrobe with a line of sinsisterly identical organic blue suits stretching off into the distance... Or maybe it's always the same one, I'm sure I could detect a hole in the knee of one leg...

Anyway, we had to wait for The Organic Monty to finish his interview in the RHS Grow Your Own garden before we could go in, so we were forced to partake of refreshments while we waited. I know, it's a tough job but someone's got to do it. It was well worth the wait though, this was the best part of the show for me, far more than the usual pretend rustic allotment display that you tend to get at shows, this was a really cutting edge grow to eat collection of displays. Herbs, fruits, nuts, edible flowers, there was even a mini vineyard interplanted with edible wild flowers, and olive groves which were quite lovely. The theme of the garden is that everything displayed is edible, so I learned a lot more about what a huge variety of plants are in fact edible as well as ornamental. Including my bete noir, cow parsley, see below.

The Garlic Farm won the award for best exhibit in this section with their gorgeous Garlic Plaiters Cottage, featuring together with lots of garlic of course, large quantities of cow parsley, It was a lovely day, far hotter than I had expected, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.The best day, weather wise of the week I suspect.  We also had the honour of being amongst the peasants to be swept aside at one point by a flurry of suits and uniforms ushering the Duchess of Cornwall around, I wonder that poor old Camilla got to see anything much from inside the battalion of escorts, she'd need to be eight feet tall.

The show gardens were all interesting, with the quest to be different in the concept gardens veering off into the frankly weird, but I was amazed to see that the brilliant garden by Chris Beardshaw, the Stockman's Retreat, was only awarded a silver gilt when it was to my mind the best garden in the show, not just because it was beautiful but it was about gardening and practical skills, and certainly one of the few show gardens bearing much resemblance to reality. Ideas, and concepts are great, but unless you're a millionaire you need practical skills to bring your ideas to life, and to avoid having a huge disconnect between the idea and the reality which I often feel is where show gardens can fall down.

Although I am prepared to suspend disbelief  when viewing show gardens, I was nevertheless disappointed with the upside down garden that I had seen previewed on TV,  Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky - sounded good  and looked great on tv, but in realityit was just too much scaffolding and didn't work at all for me.  And The World Vision garden for example was lovely to look at but the gardener in me couldn't help wondering how on earth you'd  get a lawn mower into the bowl of grass apparently floating on water!

And lastly I must say I was staggered at the amount of Cow Parsley on show,  or Anthriscus sylvestris as I must now learn to call it. . You can even buy a cultivated form from the RHS Anthriscus sylvestris var Ravenswing, for £7.99 no less. Having spent years strimming it away in the wild areas under the trees (or rather David and James have), I now find that it's fashionable Plant of the Moment! I've always thought that clouds of cow parsley do look lovely in the hegerows in spring, but not in my garden, now I'm thinking maybe I could leave them all and be the height of fashion!

Coverage of the 2011 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is on BBC2 on Thursday 7th July 8 - 9pm and Friday  8th July 7 - 8pm


  1. I would love to see the Hampton Court Flower Show. Sounds like you had a good day. Diane

  2. Glad you had a good day, I love the Hampton court show, we're going on Saturday, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the weather! Jayne

  3. Sounds like a good time. And, I learned, just yesterday, that what you call Cow Parsley, we in the States call Queen Anne's Lace. It grows wild everywhere, but I don't know anyone who cultivates it.

  4. It does sound like a good day! Cow Parsley? Tis a weed, grows everywhere, cannot imagine showcasing it.

  5. Oh I do like Monty Don. Gardeners' World is much better now he's back.
    His blue jacket always reminds me of ones that were issued to signalmen when it was British Rail and because it looks so lived in I think it's probably that old!
    I wasn't that keen on the upside down garden when it was shown on TV. The actual upside down bit looked a bit sparse.

  6. I'm very glad to hear you have the same facination with Monty's wardrobe I have! LOL

  7. I couldn't agree with you more about Show Gardens, the ones I like best are rarely the ones the judges go for. I do think that these designers completely lose touch with reality sometimes - often what they describe as a garden would barely qualify for that title in my eyes. Monty Don is always good though, like the late Geoff Hamilton he's a genuine gardener not a 'personality' or a 'cutting edge designer'.

  8. Louise, Queens Anne's Lace is so much more poetical than cow parsley!

  9. Chris Beardshaw
    now I would LOVE to find HIM in My GARDEN!!!

  10. Of course, Anthriscus sylvestris has finished well before July. And the 'Cow Parsley' seen it Hampton Court is a number of different umbels, including Ammi majus(annual), Cenolophium denudatum (perennial), and Pimpinella major (perennial). All very lovely and graceful.


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