Gardener's Weekend 2009! The words were enough to raise the heckles, acting as a call to arms to all amateur and pro gardeners, congregating under a massive tent to ogle at a floral tribute to Matthew Boulton :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Boulton. Little did I know he comprises one third of that toffee wrapper gold statue at the bottom of Broad Street. For shame, Oregano!
Usually I get in the stress mode with large groups of people. You have only to consider the events of Saturday : the English defence league, protesting against Muslim extremists, with 90 arrests, around New Street and Bennetts Hill, which is on my way to the bus. Last time a whole section of New Street from the Odeon down to Waterstone's was cordoned off by riot police. I'm digressing, but my point is built up areas make me get in the stress mode. Slow moving people, screaming kids, the sharp discontinuity exchanged in a glance, to quote Georg Simmel. But coming to King's Heath Park it felt different. I just let myself slide into things and dare I say it - I was a bit excited too.
Moving past the floral tribute, we went straight over to the Vegetable Competition. Morbleu! From dinky raspberries to massive llleeeeks (an in joke, see me for details), you had everything. Some of the prizewinners provoked well earned sneers - 'Those tomatoes are straight from Sainsbury's!' whereas others you just couldn't fault, like onions that were so smooth and spherical they looked sculpted, lettuces like verdant elephants ears, carrots the length of my arm, even a solitary pumpkin which won first prize because it was the only pumpkin there! HAHA! Cruising through I couldn't resist a photo in my Craig David jumper :
Pure social venom (not you Jake!)
God knows what people were thinking, however we weren't the only weirdos about - it was a
veritable swarm of eccentrics. Some of the laughs I heard were hilarious. I thought my laugh was loud; these dudes in their blazers, florid faced and absurdly jolly were veritably bellowing, shaking petals off the flowers, rattling the stalls. Awesome.
We then moved on to the fabled gardens, which only get opened every so often. It's not hard to see why. It was amazing. I won't even attempt to name the plants and flowers we saw, because Kate (Parsley) will call me a dork. All I can give is an impression of how it made me feel.
Peaceful, happy. It's that simple. In the end it's all about reaching
that point, that discovery, no matter how putative that may seem. Along the way we were picking up on structural pointers for our allotment - whether it was the ingenious use of an anderson shelter for growing veg over, frames, or the best angles to grow runner beans at (expounded by a ludicrously enthusiastic hobbit).
Speaking of learning, there was a kiosk advertising vocational courses in Horticulture & Garden Design. I was well made up but too embarrassed to go and ask for details. Kate went up for me which sparked off a running gag about how she was my Mum and Jake my Dad. Dialogue ran along these lines:
Kate: 'Do you think Ed looks young enough to be my son?'Jake: 'No. [Miniscule pause] Lose the facial hair and about four foot, and maybe.'
Ed : 'Yeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaah' (in a Roland Rat* voice).
However the £650 tag for the one year course left me feeling slightly less than enthusiastic. Then the inevitable question of what I would do with the certificate once I had it...Not to be pessimistic, who knows? Just not this year. Onwards G UNIT!
After admiring the carefully tended grass trodden down into a brown mess, considered the finer points of water features, met the Hobbit again and sighed at a greenhouse full of blight ridden tomatoes and potatoes, we went hunting for some bulbs. Following advice from the inimitable Parsley, I picked up a bag of Allium Purple Sensations for my sister and her boyfriend who have recently had a baby. For our garden in Kings Heath I bought a docking 100 bag of Daffodil bulbs, which I shall be planting next week. In addition I picked up a fern, some Alchemilla Mollis aka Lady's Mantle, and two types of Hosta which will look great at the bottom of our garden, as most of it lies in the shade.
Snake legged it to put a chicken in the oven, which gave Kate and I time to look and laugh at appalling garden decorations - skull and crossbones with 'I'm an X factor Winner' chalked underneath may be topical but don't strike me as wow material for discerning garden folk. I was also secretly amused by the ludicrous variety of dogs walking around, including a clown faced Sharpei. Maybe I should write a dog blog...
Nipped over to the Red Lion for a quick drink where we met Denise & Mel, who are fast becoming some of my favourite people in 'Nam**. We headed back to pick up some last minute bargains. I'm glad to say the Matthew Boulton flower display was honourably redistributed to the public at a £1 a pop for a plant or two which gave me a keen sense of completeness.
It was an awesome day. A younger version of Ed would've laughed, taken the piss or got bored and moody like a child-git, but no. This was just what I wanted. I'm emotionally attached now. Roots, yo.
*Kate's fault entirely, playing a 7" of Rat Rappin' by Roland Rat before we left the house was bound to stir up some imitations.
*BirmingNAM as in an abbreviation of Vietnam. Nam. etc