Plant perfection is possible…. But is it a price worth paying?

One of my Cosmos Xsenia flowers from this May

These are just some of my own meandering thoughts as I approach trying to get some of my Cosmos to Hampton Court, which for me is an honour in itself.

I guess the question I have always had in the back of my mind is does showing a plant that is going to be judged on its aesthetics – with nothing wrong with it fit in with gardening for and with nature? What do I mean by that. Well for example, if we look at the Hollyhocks I grow, – they are renowned for getting rust. You would not dream of exhibiting a hollyhock with rust. But one of the ways to ensure this doesn’t happen would be to spray with fungicides that can have an impact on wildlife. So how does judging for perfection fit with growing for, and encouraging wildlife. Can it?

Plants in their natural state growing in the garden can look very different to plants grown in pots for showing (I assume). Do the better regarded plants have loads of flowers – so for example the cosmos I will be taking? I again assume so. And is one way to get those flowers to use lots of plant feed? So when on the one hand we talk about wildlife and the important role gardening has, do we reward using potassium and nitrogen rich bought in feed (which has its own sustainability issues)? Is this like rewarding a sprinter who uses steroids? They will be faster than someone who doesn’t…. But is it the right thing to do? We decided not in sports… but in plants added chemical intervention is fine. And all this is before we mention putting plants in fridges to hold them back so they are perfect on a specific date.

Will we look back and think what on earth were we doing back then? I don’t know the answers. But in my attempt to get some Cosmos to Hampton Court it has made me question a lot more of what I am doing.

I think this is a debate really worth exploring.

Why have a go at #rhshamptoncourt

I’ve been asked this more than once, and I guess with everything it can be about how you are made up. I’ve always thought having a go is better than never having tried…. And that’s pretty much it. The only race is whether the cosmos flower on time. I’m not competing against anyone else so really the question should be why not?

Feeling a bit like Eddie the Eagle

I remember as a kid watching Eddie Edwards at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. His exploits later made into a film which portrayed him as a bit of an amateur (talented all the same) up against much better individuals, where he had to beg, borrow (not steal) in order to compete.

Taking my plants to RHS Hampton court is slightly different. You aren’t judged against others, but against set criteria. But I do feel a bit like Eddie when so many exhibitors are made up of the greats of the gardening world, who are professional horticulturists, and there I am, just someone who liked to grow flowers.

I suspect I had somewhat underestimated the cost of my attempt. Having just been told just the display posters by the time they are done are likely to come in at £800 the exhibit is going to cost a sizeable four figure sum by the time we are done. Just the cost of peat free compost for potting on (not the initial sowing or indeed final planting will come in at over £400. It’s not a moan – its the reality of the attempt. I doubt I will see much change from £5000 when I’m done – in fact could be more, so its been an eye opener.

Will it be worth it? Well I hope so. Being able to talk to people and encourage them to grow things from seed and to maybe change just a few behaviours on the journey to being a bit more sustainable will be worth it.

Its not fly Eddie fly… sow Jonathan sow 😂

Cosmos being otte don

I like big butts….

Of course that’s water butts. Just adding to my water storage ready for the ensuing growing season. It’s really important to save as much water as you can, and I’m able to store over 20,000 litres for use on the plot, which so far has been enough each year so that tap water isn’t required for our growing.

Chilly end to March

The weather forecast was right with the chilly end to March. In fact the next three nights are going to be freezing so I need to keep an eye on the cosmos in the polytunnel.

The October sowed sweet peas are showing just how hardy they are, and another load of peat free compost made from green waste was steaming as it was dropped off. Can’t wait to get my hands in it!