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Shoplifters, hermits and elephants

Posted by Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2009 at 11:50 AM

One of the great things about flower shows is the learning about the inspiration behind the gardens and seeing the show through the eyes of the visitors. Wednesday at Tatton Park is a day buzzing with enthusiasm, excitement and vibrancy. It's the day when most of the awards are given out and garden designers, sponsors and visitors are abuzz with the news.

Tatton Park's very own Back to Back Garden, THe Hermit's Grotto-Inspiration for Imagination won a gold medal. I found  designer and head gardener Sam Youd in great spirits and catching up with a long term friend, Gardeners' World Presenter Toby Buckland. "I love the grotto, it's terrific," he said, "and I absolutely love Tatton Park I spent a lot of time here when I used to work in Manchester. Its just the sort of quality you see in the rest of the garden, well worth a look and a well deserved gold medal. Any gardener knows their subject when they start putting leaf mould on the gravel it shows extra attention to detail."

He was also rather taken with the bedding displays on show at the RHS/Ball Colegrave National Flower Bed Competition. " l love any gardens that have a story to tell, I love the elephants that escaped in Cheltenham town centre. Who'd have thought such things even happened it just goes to show how chaotic life once was." He was referring to the Cheltenham Borough Council's 'A Big Shoplifter Caught' which was inspired by an event in 1934 when three circus elephants broke free from a parade through the town and stole seed potatoes from a seed merchants. They are banned from the shop to this day.

For Sam Youd, today is a chance to take stock of his achievements and talk to the public. "We just enjoy being at the show and meeting people. It's great to see things happening up here. We had lots of applicants for the hermit post and yesterday we actaully had two hermits here, either of them could be employed as residents here at Tatton Park. It was for the show but it has given us a few more ideas."

But when he heard about the hermit feast that occured in the press office last night he admitted that he might have to dock their wages.

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