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Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon Garden Writer/Feature Writer West Country

  • Date Joined: 01 Jul 2008

Recent Comments

  • Floral ceramics

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2009 at 01:26 PM

     There's more to Tatton Park Flower Show than plants and flowers, but there's usually a link there somewhere. If you love flowers and you are fond of ceramics and china too then you are sure to love the Moorcroft Pottery stand at the show. There's a huge variety of gorgeous designs on sale and you can meet the real artists behind the creations.

     But if you are really keen on your pottery you might like to know that Eric Knowles of BBC's Antiques Roadshow will be giving a talk from 2-2.30pm this week on Wednesday (you better hurry to catch this one), Friday (there's still plenty of time to get to the show), Saturday and Sunday. 


  • Ordered chaos

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2009 at 01:16 PM

    One of the gardens that caught my eye at this year's Tatton Park Flower Show was the Revolution show garden designed by Phillippa Probert. It's a fabulous use of colour and plants that creates a inspirational effect. It's actually an office courtyard that has two separate themes. 'Order' at the front of the garden and 'chaos' at the back. "I used to have a very small office in large office block and there was never anywhere to escape for 5 minutes. It seemed like a nice idea, with things like the smoking ban,to create somewhere where people can escape the computer screen and take a break. So the idea is that this is an office courtyard, but the garden represents order versus chaos. The order is your everyday routine, the straight lines of the garden and the grid, the straight lines lead your eye to chaos, lots of different textures, plants everything in a chaotic matter."

    The trouble is it doesn't look that chaotic, I simply love the colours, textures and plants she has used and in the autumn when the tulip trees start to take on their golden autumn hues it will look absolutely fantastic. But Phillippa if you need some help getting the chaos effect perfected, just ask. Apparently I'm an expert.
     I'm not a very chaotic person.


  • Best Show Garden

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2009 at 12:21 PM

     For the second year in a row Chris Beardshaw has designed a garden that has been awarded the best garden in its category.

    The Ness Botanische, Cheshire's Gardens of Distinction under the microscope is a bespoke garden designed for Ness Botanic Gardens


  • Shoplifters, hermits and elephants

    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."


  • Teenage Apprentice Gardeners

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Finally caught up with the entrepid Blue Peter Gardener, Chris Collins this morning. He's a busy bee and is working at the show all week in the Gardenin in Action Marquee, where visitors can enjoy an exciting programme of talks and demonstrations by RHS gardening advisors and invited guests.Make sure you check it out when you get to the show there are five sessions most days plus a Q&A session in the afternoons, Weds-Saturday.

    He's been all over the show already and a few gardens have taken his eye. "I like the BTCV garden because I think it's been really well done, and that's quite hard to achieve with wildflowers, because you need to get it moved and to keep it all intact."


  • What do hermits eat?

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2009 at 08:18 AM

     Have you ever wondered what hermits eat? No, this isn't another one of my vegetable posts although I would have thought that they foraged for wild food and that could include some vegetables.

    Late last night, just after the garden medals were awarded, the hermit duo, were spotted having a celebration inside the Tatton Park Flower Show Press Office. They must have been paid a princely sum for their services for they had splashed out on sandwiches and soft drinks and were having an ad hoc picnic.  


  • Gardening with hens

    Jean Vernon on 21 Jul 2009 at 05:26 PM

     With a huge increase in interest in Grow Your Own Veg and Fruit, the next obvious step for many gardeners is to keep a few hens for fresh homelaid eggs. It's not as difficult as it seems and yes, you can have a nice garden and hens.

    There's a garden at this years' Tatton Park Flower Show that has been designed from scratch (sorry) to show visitors that it is possible to have a beautiful garden and free range hens. It also promotes a charity, The Little Hen Rescue that rescues thousands of battery and barn hens, which all need a good home when they have served their time as prolific layers.

  • Bluebird Lands at Tatton

    Jean Vernon on 21 Jul 2009 at 05:06 PM

    Visitors to the Tatton Park Flower Show this year can see the ill-fated Bluebird K7 hydroplane which is currently being restored. It is making a very special appearance on The Lake District Bluebird Garden, which was launched today by Gina Campbell. She brought with her, her fathers' mascot, a teddy which was with him on the fateful day over 40 years ago, when he, Donald Campbell, attempted to break the water speed record on Coniston Water.


  • Absent Friends

    Jean Vernon on 21 Jul 2009 at 04:46 PM

     After a very, very, very wet day at Tatton Park Flower Show, I have to admit it's been a bit of a weird one.

    I've been working at RHS Flower Shows for the last 20 years and for much of that time I've been working with or alongside someone who is and has been a great inspiration, friend and colleague to many of us


  • The Wonderful World of Vegetables

    Jean Vernon on 21 Jul 2009 at 04:28 PM

     I know, I know, I'm having a veggie fest at this year's show, but that's partly because there is so much here to see and learn about growing, not only your own healthy fresh veg, but fruit too.

    What's great is the variety of ways you can show and display the wonderrful array of produce and yet again the kids have pushed the boundaries more than the adults. 


  • Cucumbers, sprouts and cabbages (and Fish)

    Jean Vernon on 21 Jul 2009 at 02:10 PM

    You could be forgiven for thinking that this post is about Grow Your Own, well you'd be wrong. I'm continuing with my vegetable theme today and have decided, based on the success of my Carol Klein 'Interview', to ask a few more people that dreaded question.

    " If you were a vegetable what would you be?"


  • Carol Klein, a 'bright light'

    Jean Vernon on 21 Jul 2009 at 01:26 PM

     This morning at Tatton Park the heavens opened and soaked everyone and everything at the showground. But it hasn't dampened the spirits of exhibitors and the press, all busily working away to bring you the very best Tatton Park Flower Show ever. The Floral Marquee looks spectacular already and it isn't even finished yet.

    I caught up with Carol Klein filming for the Beeb this morning. Looking absolutely stunning in a rain coat several sizes too big for her, she was simply effervescent about the colour and variety of plants within the Floral Marquee and especailly the crocosmias. "On Hardy's stand there are some real beauts," she said, taking me there to show me a particulary stunning example, "just look at this lovely gold one, 'Paul's Best Yellow', this is a chap who has been breeding these on the Isle of Wight and producing some of these just fantastic ones and trying to make them available to the public."


  • Hermits, Hats and Eric Knowles?

    Jean Vernon on 19 Jul 2009 at 09:38 PM

     You never know quite what to expect at an RHS Flower Show, there's always plenty of hype and anticipation from the Press Office before the start of the show to get the press interested and to entice the paparazzi.

    After some disappointments (for me anyway) at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, I don't like to get my hopes up; I never did get to ask Ricky Gervais "if you were a vegetable, what sort of vegetable would you be?" ( though probably just as well really). Was he even there? Did anyone see him, I didn't.


  • An interest in human skulls required

    Jean Vernon on 16 Jul 2009 at 01:19 PM

    Over the last few weeks Tatton Park in Cheshire has been searching for its very own 'Apprentice'. Unlike the BBC series where cleanliness, appearance and designer labels hold great sway, this vacancy has quite different requirements. For example the candidates must be totally silent, trips to the nail bar and baths are banned (toe nails need to be overgrown) and facial hair is a pre-requisite for the post. The Pent House is a Hermit's cave and an interest in human skulls is preferred.

    Head Gardener of Tatton Park, Sam Youd has been looking for a dishevelled  hermit to take residence in his 'Hermit's Grotto' garden at this year's Tatton Park Flower Show next week


  • Tatton goes soft on fruit

    Jean Vernon on 16 Jul 2009 at 01:09 PM

    The RHS Show Tatton Park is going soft on fruit this year as summer berries take centre stage reflecting the UK's passion for growing sweet sensations such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
    Garden designers at Tatton are reaffirming the move from ‘purchasing punnets' to planting then picking' with Show Gardens such as ‘Be Fruitful' by Sharon
    Hockenhall and ‘Home Grown' by Bridgemere Garden World, both brimming with bountiful berries.

    It's a great reflection of a recent online survey carried out by the RHS that revealed 37% of respondents plan to grow their own fruit for next year.


  • An earthy, eco festival

    Jean Vernon on 16 Jul 2009 at 12:22 PM

    Gardeners with an interest in self-sufficiency, permaculture and sustainable living could spend a few days at the largest and liveliest green festival of the summer. Totally powered by wind, solar and people power, The Big Green Gathering is a collection of everything that is good, green and eco friendly.The five day event runs from Wednesday 29th July to Sunday August 2nd 2009.

    From acoustic musicians, alternative energy, self-build and green crafts, the event is a magnet for earthy souls in tune with nature


  • Weird and Wonderful

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 01:36 PM

     Sometimes new things at flower shows aren't flagged up. There are reasons for this. For example on Elizabeth MacGregor's stand in the Floral Marquee there are several new plants including a fabulous blue Eryngium ' Lapis Blue', but something weird and wonderful lurks in the border.



  • Cheeky Boys

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 12:55 PM

    In the Floral Marquee there's a weed. It's official and it's been seen. What's more the stand it is on has been awarded a gold medal.
    Now we all know that a weed is a plant growing in the wrong place, and this is just about what has happened.


  • Slug Rescue

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 12:12 PM

     After his disappointment earlier in the summer when thieves broke into his Somerset nursery and callously stole 17 show plants, John Trott of Mendip Bonsai has bounced back.  Some might say the experience has left him a bit affected. I found him this morning more interested in an innocent little slug meandering over his display cloth than his gold medal. Considering he got a silver gilt at Hampton Court this was surprising.


  • Sitting Down on the Job

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 11:59 AM

    It's been a funny morning here at Tatton Park Flower Show. After yesterday's disappointment of not meeting Robbie Williams despite the assurances of Online Editor Geoff Hodge that he'd be at the show, I found him (Geoff Hodge not Robbie!) about to do a live broadcast on Radio 87.7 Tatton FM.
    He was obviously feeling guilty because he asked for a special Robbie request to be played on the radio this morning. However I later discovered that it wasn't his idea. His kind assistant Online Editor Michelle Urquhart has suggested it to him and he'd claimed it as his own. And there was me thinking he was trying to make amends.


  • Golden Wonder

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 11:57 AM

    The Welsh Wizard has done it again! Another Gold Medal was awarded to Medwyn Williams and his perfect vegetable display. "I'm on top of the world," said the boy wonder. "The display was considered for Best in Show and the RHS President said it was absolutely stunning. Vegetables are as colourful as flowers. We've never got less than a gold in all our years of competing, so we are very pleased."


  • Puzzled of Hampshire

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 11:35 AM

    Before the awards are announced exhibitors are usually very coy about their prize potential or a bit blasé. Yesterday during set up I found Alistair Pearce of Southwest Carnivorous Plants in a very cool, calm and collected phase. He's built his stand in record time, just four hours compared to the normal sixteen. What's the secret I asked? "Putting plants down in one place and not tweaking them," he said with reference to his absent wife's normal exemplerary attention to detail. (He'll be in trouble for that!)

    This is his last show at Tatton Park, " it's partly due to show fatigue and also I've lost my confidence in the judging. At Hampton Court I got a Silver Gilt Medal and one of the judges came back and said that they hadn't liked the Boston Ferns and that they didn't really go with my carnivorous plants. The fact that I'd been using them for 15 years and that they were exactly the same ferns I used on my stand at Chelsea and got a gold, puzzled me."
    "I haven't gone all out to get a gold here, so I won't be too disappointed if I don't. But I'd really like not to get a Bronze Medal because I've never had one."

    Good news for Alistair is that his display was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal. Just think if he'd spent a little bit longer on it and more attention to detail it would have been a gold! 

  • Tank Girls

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 10:49 AM

    Gardens serve many purposes. At flower shows they usually have a message or a theme for visitors to take away with them. Others are simply a showcase for skills, plants and garden design. Part of Tatton Park Flower Show this year is The RHS/Ball Colegrave National Flower Bed Competition.


  • Fish and chips

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 10:11 AM

    Spreading the word about gardening is just one of the roles of a garden writer. Martin Fish combines his garden writing talents with a bit of broadcasting and has a regular slot on BBC Radio Nottingham. If found him lurking in the vegetables on the BBC North West Vegetable Garden by Reaseheath, where he told me that there's been a sharp increase in vegetable enquiries on his radio show. "I think that more people are having a go at growing. I'm a great one to encourage people to grow vegetables. Growing your own vegetables and harvesting the produce that comes is great. It doesn't matter whether they grow them organically, it's just getting them started that's important."


  • Bribery and corruption

    Jean Vernon on 23 Jul 2008 at 09:54 AM

    Chris Beardshaw, judge and garden designer was promoting Cheshire's Year of Gardens 08 at the show yesterday morning.
    Using bribery and corruption, (OK it was Pimms and Canapés - a rare, rare treat for the members of the gardening press you understand) the Press learned that Cheshire is home to the greatest number of gardens in England. The garden that he has designed includes some fantastic horticultural gems, a deep herbaceous border and some classic views.
    He'd been out judging already and was just the chap to ask about this years' Tatton Park Flower Show.



  • The Devil came down to Tatton

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 05:28 PM

    There's a definite theme of red devils in the Clive Scott Lucifer (Talk of the Devil) garden at this years Tatton Park Flower Show.
    Inspired by the rich red Crocosmia ‘Lucifer' and seasoned with devil touches the design in simple but very striking.


  • Punks, teenagers and a challenge to the judges

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 04:59 PM

     I found Jon Tilley on his hands and knees cleaning up his ‘Punk's not Dead' Garden. The judges have left their mucky footprints on his fantastic punk path, but he wasn't complaining. Instead he was creating them a challenge: "I think that for Children in Need we should get the RHS judges to build a show garden that is either judged by children or by previous RHS show garden designers." He's serious too, so how about it?


  • Mr Potato Head

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 02:58 PM

    'Grow your own'has been the buzz phrase of the season this year, but if it hasn't enticed you into the wonderful world of vegetables then pay a visit to Medwyn Williams stand in the Floral Marquee at the Tatton Park Flower Show. What this man doesn't know about growing vegetables you could write onto a peapod.

    Show vegetables don't do it for everyone, but Medwyn knows not only how to grow vegetables to look good but also raves about them as a source of food. This year there are several new varieties to entice more children to eat vegetables including mini cucumbers for lunch boxes and chocolate coloured tomatoes. It's a great place to see vegetables looking fabulous, the colour range is tremendous


  • Living the dream

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 02:51 PM

     There are dozens of gardens at this years' Tatton Park Flower Show, but one that caught my eye this morning was The Moorcroft ‘Natural Woman' Garden. It's got a nice philosophy and a very green and pleasant feel.
    Designer Louise Harrison-Holland of Blue Tulip Garden Design designed the garden for a busy working wife and mother. It reflects elements of Moorcroft Pottery as well as creating a framework to live a holistic and green lifestyle. "There are plants for cosmetics, herb boxes for culinary use and lots of sustainable elements. The timber in the garden is all created from reclaimed floorboards."


  • Smiley Carol

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 02:41 PM

    How does she do it that Carol Klein? She's in hot hot demand these days from the television presenters and barely has time to come up for breath when working at the shows. I've been trying to catch up with her since Chelsea. Three flower shows later I managed to track her down twice this very morning. Once as I was arriving at the show in the car and then later again in the Floral Marquee.


  • Hen Pecked? You be the judge

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 02:35 PM

    I caught up with Joe Swift this morning outside the NACRO Ladies that Lunch garden, which was complete with some live ex battery hens exploring the concept of real grass. Joe didn't seem too impressed with the chickens. "Tatton Park is a nice day out for a chicken as long as their batteries don't run out," he quipped.


  • Lies, lies, lies

    Jean Vernon on 22 Jul 2008 at 02:13 PM

     When I agreed to come up and help Blog from Tatton Park Flower Show it was on the specific agreement with online Editor Geoff Hodge that he'd book Robbie Williams for the flower show.
    It's a long way for me to drive up from the West Country, but the prospect of seeing my favourite all time pop star at Tatton Park Flower Show was enough to convince me it was worth getting up this morning at 4am!
    But when I got to the press office this morning, I discovered that Geoff had reneged on his promise.
    To be fair he had tried, but obviously his charms didn't appeal to the young Mr Williams. He should have asked the experts. More a ladies man, Mr Hodge instead had apparently secured the presence of Robbie Williams' Mum and sister instead. Fantastic promotion for Stoke On Trent, whose garden "Let us Entertain You," they were launching at the show.