Being involved in a Chelsea Flower Show build was a long held ambition, but with that and Hampton Court receding into memory it’s difficult not to feel a little flat.

That’s not to say that I don’t have anything to look forward to. There are at least three weeks off with Little Boots over the next month and a half, and we have plenty planned.

But there’s nothing in the here and now and I’m finding it tough. This is largely boredom and self-indulgent self-pity, but the thing is I’m longing to do something immediately, rather than just mark time until the summer hols.

There is I think another aspect to this. A yearning to spend more time outside. Occasionally I used to take an alternative route to the station. Instead of the L-shaped couple of hundred yards of boring tarmac, that only varied seasonally because in the dark winter months there was more dog-shit to avoid, I’d duck down a bosky footpath that covered the same journey, but took slightly longer. At first this was an impulse to break the tedium, but the more I did it the more I noticed. There were plants in such variety it surprised me, although it shouldn’t have. On really crappy days I’d reflect back that the most interesting thing I’d done was something like spotting white Herb Robert flowers, and pondering whether they were formed that colour, or if age, or sun had made it so.

A few months back I made this my regular route, quite simply because it makes my that little bit richer.

But they say the taste of honey is worse than none at all. And I think it has very much made me wish for more of this.

Yes I have the garden and the allotment, but when I’m in/on them that’s work, diverting work, but work nonetheless. I’m feeling a need not just to wander, nor just to “stop and stare”, although they are surely part of it, but also to well, fill a nature shaped hole in my soul.


Helping build a garden at Chelsea was the fulfilment of a long-standing ambition.

It wasn’t achieved without cost.

I don’t mean the money I spent on travel, or the time taken off work.

No the cost was to my boots. My beloved Blundstones have died.

True they were getting on a bit, I bought them on a trip to New Zealand in early 2002, but I had taken a lot of care of them and didn‘t even wear them as work boots for a number of years. I reckon it was the corrugated steel roadway that helped shred the soles, but I’m sure they would’ve given up the ghost sooner or later – it just happened a bit suddenly, that’s all.

To make matters worse they’re a model (Blundstone 140s) that you can’t get in the UK. What am I going to wear to Hampton Court?

There’s a piece in today’s Guardian about things that gardeners have brought back from Chelsea Flower show be it inspiration, or something physical.

I’ve helped out at a few garden shows and have always come home with something that reminds me of each experience. The object I that came back from this year’s Chelsea is part of an old clay pipe.

At home I’ve a few pieces of stem that have cropped up from the garden or allotment, but no bowl sections.

So this year’s memento has a dual purpose. It reminds me of digging the hole in the brick-hard ground (I can’t call it soil) where it came out with the spoil and it has allowed me to demonstrate to Little Boots what the little white tubes I have in a box of garden relics are part of.