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Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon Garden Writer/Feature Writer West Country

  • Date Joined: 01 Jul 2008

Recent Comments

  • A matter of balance?

    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.


  • Celebrating 250 years of Thomas Andrew Knight

    Jean Vernon on 26 May 2009 at 02:20 PM

     It seems to me that a few things slipped under the radar at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

    One exhibit was celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of  one of the very first Presidents of the London Horticultural Society. This is the very same Society that was given the Royal warrant by the Prince Consort in 1864 and became the Royal Horticultural Society


  • Trees for bees

    Jean Vernon on 26 May 2009 at 01:15 PM

    As gardeners we are all aware of the vital role that bees play in nature.

    We are also very well placed to do alot to support the ailing bee population. The jury is still officially out on what is the real problem affecting our honey bees, but it is clear that bee disease and pollution are playing their part.


  • New ideas with roses

    Jean Vernon on 26 May 2009 at 11:57 AM

     Chelsea flower show was awash with ideas and inspiration across the showground. But most of the creativity was in the show gardens.

    In the Great Pavilion were plenty of other creative ideas if you took a little time to search them out


  • Three cheers for the Chelsea Organisers Office

    Jean Vernon on 22 May 2009 at 07:08 PM

    Can you imagine what a huge job it must be actually organising, orchestrating and co-ordinating the world's best flower show?? In the current economic climate I'm sure that the organisers really didn't know who was really exhibiting until they actually arrived at the show ground.


  • David Bellamy on butterflies and bees

    Jean Vernon on 22 May 2009 at 06:14 PM

    The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the launch pad for many things over the week. This year one major lawnmower company and exhibitor (Countax) invited environmentalist David Bellamy to the show to publicise their sponsorship of a new Butterfly conservation project; Butterfly World.


  • Bumble bees on amphetamines?

    Jean Vernon on 22 May 2009 at 05:28 PM


    You never quite know what opinions you'll get on the gardens and exhibits at Chelsea flower show. It can be a daunting experience, especially when talking to flambouyant characters such as presenter and garden designer James Alexander-Sinclair. I stopped him on main avenue at Chelsea with garden designer Alice Bowe.

  • Golden Grasses

    Jean Vernon on 22 May 2009 at 04:10 PM

    Three different personality threads were drawn together at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Botanist and environmentalist Sir David Bellamy, garden designer Cleve West and Neil Lucas from Knoll Gardens have joined forces to promote the importance of natural planting and biodiversity.


  • Ecological, Economic and an Eco Wonder @ Chelsea

    Jean Vernon on 22 May 2009 at 03:59 PM

    One thing that's clear from this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show is that visitors are gleaning much more than information on plants that inspire them. It's a tough year for everyone and the garden designers have been working with reduced budgets to very tight briefs. There are a variety of ideas for everyone to take away, but one garden simply wowed the judges with its design and ethos.



  • It's a great show

    Jean Vernon on 20 May 2009 at 06:05 PM

    Isn't it lovely when everyone has such positive things to say about something. Normally the news is full of doom and gloom but just about everybody I spoke to at Chelsea this week had only positive things to say about it. Even if it had been raining, too windy or if they were suffering from the pollen which blights the show for many visitors.

    Lawrence and Alice Dallaglio were happy to stop and share their views despite the threat of the rain.

  • Paparazzi and Film Stars

    Jean Vernon on 20 May 2009 at 04:00 PM


     Getting near the film stars at Chelsea Flower Show on Press day is a problem. Not only are they surrounded by minders and supporters and friends, but there's usually a thick layer of snappers waving large expensive cameras in their faces too which makes it a bit tricky getting even a short sentence from them.


  • The right tool for the job

    Jean Vernon on 20 May 2009 at 03:56 PM

     I spotted Sandi Toksvig with a new spade at Chelsea Flower Show this week, the bad news is that she told me she'd broken her old one on Sunday trying to move a rock. There needs to be a Prevention of Cruelty to Tools Trust set up somewhere that makes it unthinkable to use any garden tool for anything other than it was designed for.

    She'd worn herself out looking round the show. "We've seen it all and now we are exhausted," she said. "We like the cottage gardens mostly, anything there that's old-fashioned and English. And I liked the Plasticine Garden, I know that's slightly controversial, but I thought it was brilliant."

    Is there a connection between old-fashioned, English, Plasticine and dare I say, James May?? Have I missed something


  • A little less flambuoyant than previous years?

    Jean Vernon on 20 May 2009 at 03:31 PM

     Rolf Harris and his wife Alwen were making the most of their time at Chelsea. Alwen had bought a new coat and was modelling it down Main Avenue when I caught up with them.


  • Gary 'grow your own'

    Jean Vernon on 20 May 2009 at 03:08 PM

    Plants and flowers tantalise all the senses and some of the exhibits in the Great Pavillion show this well. The Tropical Flora of Grenada is a feast of colour, smell and flavour and a real hit with visitors.


  • The 'boss' on plasticine, plants and gardens

    Jean Vernon on 20 May 2009 at 12:44 PM

     Working for the RHS is a privilege (is that enough creeping do you think?) the team I work with are experienced, knowledgeable and very sociable creatures (a bit more??) but even I (and perhaps Digger) am surprised to see, hear and read the positive reaction to Plasticine Paradise. It is though, I feel,  a shame for some of the other garden designers and the fantastic show gardens that this 'pseudo garden creation' has stolen a lot of the limelight and show coverage.

    Anyway, back to my sycophantic rantings. Ian Hodgson, Editor RHS Journal 'The Garden',  had his own views on things this week.  


  • Celebrity Pedal Power

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 10:16 PM

     You never quite know what you will see, hear or find at Chelsea Flower Show. This year celebrities were literally queueing up to donate elbow grease to water the plants on one stand in the Grand Pavillion.

     'A Window of Opportunity' features a static outdoor gym, with bicycles cycling the water around the garden to irrigate the plants


  • Charitable chrysanthemums

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 09:50 PM

    If you were a flower what would you be? It's an interesting thought, but have you thought about how you'd feel to have a plant named after you? Many new plants are introduced every year at the RHS Shows and especially at Chelsea - just take a look at Graham Rice's blogs and you'll see what I mean.

     This year one particular celebrity had a flower named in his honour and was at the show taking a look around


  • Off-duty @ Chelsea

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 09:13 PM

    It's not just the gardens that are imaculately turned out for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, some of the visitors are as carefully groomed as the plants and flowers. Jennie Bond was officially off duty when I stopped her on Main Avenue on Monday.



  • The end of winter?

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 06:48 PM

     Personally I love the unpredictability of the weather. Wouldn't life be so boring if we could control it? It's what makes gardening exciting and a challenge and let's face it, if we didn't have the weather to talk or moan about, I wonder what some people would find to say. That's not to say I don't appreciate a fine summer's day or the benefits of kind weather for those battling with their Chelsea exhibits. For some reason Chelsea Flower Show is often at the mercy of extreme weather but it just doesn't stop the show.

    "Windy!" was the response I got from Stephen Fry when I enquired how he was finding Chelsea 2009


  • A resurgence of plants

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 03:14 PM

     Monday, Chelsea Press Day, saw a whole range of celebrities meandering around the Royal Hospital Grounds at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Some were more discerning than others about the content and the importance of the show.

    Broadcaster, Journalist and Londoner, Wesley Kerr was particularly taken with The Key garden, designed by Paul Stone of the Eden Project


  • Disappearing Decking

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 02:44 PM

     Did anyone else notice a distinct lack of decking at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show? Not that I am disappointed in anyway, but it does appear to be disappearing at a satisfying rate. Has it simply rotted away from the designers product portfolio or has the credit crunch played a part in its demise in some way? 

    Whatever the reason, one famous actor and film star was particularly pleased to note it was not a supporting role of the show.


  • In praise of Plasticine

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 01:54 PM

     I hear that James May's Plasticine Paradise has won him the coveted award of a 'Special Letter'. Would that be a 'P' for plasticine or a 'D' for don't do it again.

     Sure it's controversial, of course there's self promotion there and despite James' claims that it is botanically correct (sorry James but it really isn't!), it has created a real stir for the show


  • Losing the Plot

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 11:47 AM
    It was another Chelsea Gold for Hilliers' 2009 Grand Pavilion exhibit at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Designed and directed by Hilliers' Managing Director Andy McIndoe, the garden marks the four stages in most people's lives.




  • Gardening is the Key

    Jean Vernon on 19 May 2009 at 11:42 AM

     Gardening is the Key
    Gardeners across the world know that gardening is therapeutic, but our down to earth hobby is even much more than that. Through garden design, community spirit and the clever use of plants, one show garden at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show has a powerful message to portray.
    The Key garden aims to portray the difficulties and barriers that homeless people face in the modern world. Designed by Paul Stone of the Eden Project with Architecture sans Frontieres-UK it maps patterns and problems of everyday life. "The story of this garden is that it is a journey," explains Paul Stone.


  • Motor bikes and Piranhas

    Jean Vernon on 17 May 2009 at 05:44 PM

     There's been a few firsts at this year's Chelsea flower show, a gnome in the Grand Pavillion, plasticine flowers and a tank full of flesh munching piranhas now grace the Grand Pavillion too. It's all in the name of education and is the result of the persuavive personality of garden designer David Domoney.

     "This piranha hunting ground is showing the interaction of wildlife underwater.
    I wanted to put fish in these, all the gardens outside have butterflies and bees and   I asked to include a couple of piranhas. A couple became 15 and now it's a shoal, it's causing some interest but I think Chelsea should be challenging, it should be inspiring and entertaining. Hopefully when the visitors come they see something that's never been done before. We want to highlight the diversity of plant life underwater; in our seas there are 9000 varieties of algae."


  • Eco Angle

    Jean Vernon on 17 May 2009 at 05:13 PM

    There's masses of eco ideas to take home from this years Chelsea Flower Show. Future Nature presents a variety of environmental ideas and elements for visitors. Look out for the green roof, urban water recycling system but it's the insect towers that create a dramatic and fascinating impact. "We wanted it to be eco and we wanted to bring lots of ideas to the show," says one of the garden designers, Nigel Dunnett. "We've taken every day materials we found and used them in the insect towers. I think virtually everything is recycled, the insect towers were a fence last week. What we want people to do is to come along and say 'I can do that'."


  • Really, truly and utterly Jekka's last floral exhibit

    Jean Vernon on 17 May 2009 at 04:47 PM

    All of the floral exhibits in the Grand Pavillion are simply amazing. Months and months of dedication, blood, sweat and tears have gone into every single one of them. But how is it that one in particular always has a glow around it? Jekka McVicar's display this year appears illuminated from within. It's either her energy shining through or the plants are trying to tell us something, whatever it is these are happy healthy plants about to complete what Jekka insists is, "really, truly and utterly my last floral exhibit," I don't want to believe it, but watch this space.


  • Not always Paving the Way

    Jean Vernon on 17 May 2009 at 03:08 PM

    To pave or not to pave has been the question for urban and suburban gardeners for decades. With parking at a premium, but the need to support our wildlife even more pressing, gardeners need to find a good compromise. At this years Chelsea Flower Show Ian Dexter has presented a show garden in four parts, Marshalls Living Street. "I've got 4 front gardens, one caters for grow your own and sustainability, so I've used reclaimed materials in the garden, reclaimed wood and even reclaimed beehive as a composter. There's also a vertical edible wall, it's a very sensory aromatic element where we have alpine strawberries and tumbling tomatoes to give a good degree of fruiting crops. I think that without doubt this garden is aimed to be relevant and attainable, there are elements in all four garden that the public can think 'we can do that in ours'. "


  • Purple Cabernet 'Plasticine' Grape

    Jean Vernon on 17 May 2009 at 02:37 PM


     The rumour mill surrounding the world famous Chelsea Flower Show has been working overtime this last few weeks. Plasticine flowers at the world's greatest flower show? Well it is true. It's the handy work of Top Gear Presenter James May and his team of community modellers and despite its bizarre appearance in the midst of horticulture wonder it has to be viewed in the manner in which it has been created. It's no grand design or botanical wonder but it is a piece of art


  • Gnome at Large at Chelsea 2009

    Jean Vernon on 17 May 2009 at 02:26 PM

     Don't tell anyone but there's a real, genuine, fishing gnome inside the Great Pavillion at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. I can't tell you where it is in fear of visitors to the show diving into the fabulous display of fragrant (hint) plants in search of this lucky mascot, but the designer of the stand assures me he is there to guard the plants and ground her creation. You'll need to look closely at the pic below to make out the little chap, catch him while you can before he disappears back into his hidey hole for the rest of the show.

    Rumour has is that there is also a large stuffed chicken loose at the show as well as a shoal of piranhas, a whole stand of fake flowers, a plasticine mole and an LED lit graveyard. If it was April 1st I could believe it, but at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show, surely not? Have standards dropped, have rules been laxed, or is the gardening world just exercising its sense of humour?? You decide