I hunted high and low for something to take along to swap, but unfortunately struggled terribly. I narrowed it down to a greenfly-covered tomato plant which should have been potted on weeks ago (how could I have ignored that?), a cerise busy Lizzie in a terracotta pot (do they even allow bedding plants in RHS gardens?) or an open packet of sunflower seeds which could have been free with a magazine. In the end I decided not to take anything - better to do that than introduce a greenfly plague to Hyde Hall or be sniggered at by the other bloggers.
When I arrived I found it difficult to track down the group, as I didn't really know what anyone looked like. That's the trouble with us lot , isn't it - many of us only really know each other through cyberspace and we don't all choose to show pictures of ourselves online. Even so, I did find everyone and was quickly very glad that I decided not to bring anything to swap. The group were brandishing bundles of seed (all unopened I might add), beautiful herbaceous plants and lovely books. It was definitely best to leave the busy Lizzie at home.
The assembled group was small, I think a combination of half term and venturing to deep, dark Essex, had put many people off, but it didn't matter. I met Claire of Plantpassion
, Malvernmeet of The Plotting Daily
and another lady who is quite new to the media game and blogs about growing veg. (*1) Here are a few of the group enjoying the surprisingly beautiful Essex landscape:
Ian Bull's tour of the garden was the highlight of the visit with the Dry Garden being my favourite area he talked to us about. Here it is:
Having just had one of the driest springs on record, the garden has really been put through its paces. It stood up to the challenge of course, looks great and is a great example of how gardening with, and not against, nature can really work.
Ian also told us how Hyde Hall is actually a great deal larger than most people realise, with many of the surrounding fields also belonging to the garden. He talked us through their extremely impressive plans to develop the garden and blend it into the surrounding landscape. This changes have already started in many areas and will, without doubt, be beautiful when they're complete. I'm particularly excited about plans for an outdoor theatre which will be a delight, especially if a performances also involves a lovely picnic and a glass of wine (there we are, gardens and alcohol again - the perfect mix). Here's one of the most recently developed areas:
All in all, Friday's trip to Hyde Hall was well worth it. I'm so impressed the RHS recognise blogging as a valuable part of the gardening media scene, and it was thoroughly enjoyable to meet a few like-minded people. The garden looked great too and, as an Essex boy who lives just down the road (*2), I'll visit often.
So, after spending Friday hard at work (honest, it was work) I decided to spend yesterday relaxing with the family in my own garden. And what fun we had. A triumphant barbecue, several jugs of Pimms and endless sunshine made for delightful day. Ida even had a whirl in her paddling pool, which was the first time this year. Here's me in action at the barbecue and Ida taking a dip:
So, there we are, if you're looking for the perfect tonic just mix gardening, sunshine and a glass of something lovely (*3)
Until next time...
*1 I feel terribly rude not remembering her name, but do remember that she's part of her Parish Council and lives in Kent. Please get in touch so I can give you a proper name-check and lead everyone to your blog.
*2 Westcliff on Sea is just 12 miles from Hyde Hall and it takes me 20 minutes to reach it in the car. Great Wakering, officially the driest place in Great Britain (and referred to by Ian Bull in our tour of the Dry Garden) is a few minutes drive from my house and where my mother-in-law lives.
*3 Always drink responsibly.