Carpe Diem Posted on May 27, 2011

The green scones of Cork

Do I have a weakness in the Carpe Diem department? I suspect it’s because I find I take less pleasure than I should (certainly than most others do) in the full-on pleasure of, say, a field of tulips or exotic summer bedding. Why should it mar my enjoyment that when it’s over, that’s that? After all it’s even more true of a plate of food.

Anticipation, on the other hand, gives me a disproportionate amount of pleasure. My friends thought I was crazy when I showed them my incipient arboretum: a field of sticks with labels. The analogy of laying-down wine is obvious. Am I really enjoying bottles that I won’t open for years? You bet I am.

These reflections always come round again at Chelsea time. My second, if not my first, thought is ‘what next?’ When the white
foxgloves are over what will there be to look at? Carpe diem. Enjoy what is in front of your eyes. And this year there was so much to enjoy that I did just that. Carpe without carping, as one might say.

The annual Trad Award went this year to Diarmuid Gavin’s extravaganza – though not to the flying contraption that reminded me of The Night Garden, the Ninky Nonk and Iggle Piggle. What I loved was the soft Irish greenery underneath: the soft scones of box and waving grasses (the wind was a great help) among pale circular pools.

Green was the theme in my other favourite garden, too: the Malaysian jungle around a quite marvellous pavilion like a giant barcode ending in a bracket. They were, of course, all tender exotic plants. I tried to convert it mentally into hardy evergreens, but after the experience of last winter it would not be worth trying.
Inside what I still call the marquee my favourite was Raymond Evison’s clematis tunnel, bold enough to take on the rosarians at their own game but in the pastel poetry of clematis.

Hugh’s Gardening Books


Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

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John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary