It is a truism worth repeating that nothing is quite the same watched on television. Last week I went to Chelsea Flower Show and later when I watched that day on television I couldn't believe it was the same event.
I would like to reassure those of you who have never been that it really is the best flower show on earth and need not involve meeting Alan Titchmarsh (one cannot truly trust a man in a blazer) or computer generated crowds of genteel ladies in faded florals wearing 'comfy' sandals.
It is also possible to spend a day there without sighting a flower with a leisurely lunch, copious quantities of champagne, a reviving cream tea and Pimms, and by strolling around outside casting an eye over the show and small gardens.
Flowers are not fashionable. The recurring theme was green and more green, with the use of spindly blue irises to give spiky contrast. Gone are the challenging architectural structures to be replaced by 'metaphors'.
I confess that gardens as metaphors for Altzheimers and Dyslexia were slightly lost on my euphoric and alcohol-enhanced faculties and when finally I stumbled into the pavilion and found the roses I was almost moved to tears with nostalgia.
But it was a display of peonies that made me grasp a man by the arm and tell him of the first time I had dinner chez Mr Brain and took with me a great armful of blood red peonies cut from my garden so that when he opened the door all he could see was a mass of blooms and two little legs dangling. Small wonder he fell in love. Mr Brain, that is.
The man, who looked like Max Hastings, was Max Hastings and was less enamoured. Moving on, a friend, Christina Williams, had designed her first Chelsea garden, 'Music on the Moors' and seeing it – a view through a village church listening to Bach towards wild moorland – executed so brilliantly in a tiny space it came as no surprise that she should win a Gold Medal and Best Garden in its category. More champagne.
Where once everything at Chelsea was precise and perfect, now the skill lies in the perfection of imperfection. Watch out, Tetbury in Bloom, last year I was happy with a silver, this year I am inspired.
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