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Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon Garden Writer/Feature Writer West Country

  • Date Joined: 01 Jul 2008

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A matter of balance?

Posted by Jean Vernon on 26 May 2009 at 03:16 PM

 With this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show now packed away for another year, is it time to take stock of the highlights and lowlights of this world famous show?

What will be your overriding memory of Chelsea 2009. Will it be the People's Favourite - The Cancer Research Garden promoting the work of a charity that helps people from all walks of life and a disease that has probably blighted every family the world over? Or will it be the other People's Favourite - the 'abominable' 'Paradise in Plasticine'? Plasticine has also touched the lives and probably the hearts of the masses and this Urban Garden has generated masses of publicity for the show.


Many have wondered how it was ever allowed to be created within the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Whatever your view, keep it balanced. I know of one 12 year old boy, Joe, who would never have even thought of visiting the RHS website. A young man whose knowledge of aeroplanes and cars is almost beyond compare,  but who was lured to the Chelsea website by the promise of a glimpse of his favourite Top Gear Presenter, James May, and once on the site, he explored further.

Joe may never be a keen gardener, but if this 'horticultural abomination' (Paradise in Plasticine) has inspired, attracted or even educated even just a handful of teenagers with a little more understanding of plants and gardens, then surely that is a good thing? Aren't the children our future? 

Plasticine is colourful. It is also something that most children love and associate with fun. The sooner we encourage more youngsters to share in our world of gardening, by whatever means is attractive to them, then the better the future of our planet will be.

What do you think?


Digger said:

Encouraging children to take an interest in horticulture is a good thing, we can all agree on that. But i hope we don't see any more of this nonsense at Chelsea again

on 26 May 2009 at 09:51 PM

bogweevil said:

I liked it a lot - it is very funny, surreal even, and a lot more interesting that yet another iteration of the usual small garden themes.  Boggy

on 27 May 2009 at 09:35 AM

Jean Vernon said:

I agree with you Digger, I wouldn't want to see another Plasticine garden, but I think it has been a very interesting 'event' at Chelsea this year and judging by the people's vote they liked it too. I do feel it has overshadowed some fabulous gardens that deserved more coverage, but it has provided an alternative link between the RHS, Chelsea and the children who might not otherwise have been interested. Chelsea and Plasticine in the same sentence is possibly a first (and last), it's been done now, lets look forward to some fresh innovation at next year's show.

on 27 May 2009 at 10:32 AM

Jean Vernon said:

Thanks for your input Bogweevil. I am sure the team will be pleased that you liked it. Did you enjoy anything else at the show?

on 27 May 2009 at 10:33 AM

Digger said:

I'm sorry to go on, but maybe I've missed the point? I just fail to see what the plasticine garden has got to do with horticulture or what it has /will contribute to horticulture, people may vote for it but how many of those people would engage james may to design their garden for them?

on 27 May 2009 at 12:42 PM

Jean Vernon said:

Hi Digger,

I think maybe you are trying too hard to fit everything into a formula. This was a totally alternative angle on horticulture, a tangent, another dimension, a bit of fun. James May is no garden designer, and I don't think anyone voting for it thinks that he is, but I think they liked the spirit of the 'garden'. It was radical, a little bit daring and not what they expected at the RHS Chelsea show. It got them talking, it got them thinking and maybe it took them back to whatever it was that got them interested in gardens in the first place. No it wasn't botanical (even though James protested that it was botanically correct!), it wasn't even a great piece of garden design, but it was making a statement about thinking outside of the box, that maybe, just maybe, very occasionally, some gardens don't need to have plants in them to be a garden?? Radical maybe, but it's food for thought.

on 27 May 2009 at 09:01 PM

Horticulture » Lost Worlds ... Paradise Regained | New York Social Diary said:

Pingback from  Horticulture » Lost Worlds ... Paradise Regained | New York Social Diary

on 31 May 2009 at 12:32 PM