I just want a bit of room to practice some topiary and grow some box hedges of my own, and that is not going to happen on my balcony.
Fortunately, some (very) bright spark has come up with the idea of a new sort of 'garden' show: Grow London, a garden show for people who don't have gardens. That spark is Will Ramsay, who also founded the Affordable Art Fair (bringing original art to the walls of the masses); he's now aiming to 'democratise' gardening for people who only have access to window boxes, i.e. me. It's on all weekend, in Hampstead (you can get the overground to Hampstead Heath) and I thoroughly recommend it. (And, should you wish to make a whole day of it, the utterly amazing 2 Willow Road, Erno Goldfinger's former modernist home, is just around the corner.) The only problem is that your longing for a garden won't necessarily decrease having been . . .
But how could it, having seen foxgloves like these? I'd forgotten just how perfectly exquisite foxgloves are.
And look! Olive trees and lavender, the most perfect combination ever. Cleverly, everything here is in pots, so you really can conjure up a Mediterranean-style garden on a tiny concrete balcony (though perhaps not if your balcony is quite as tiny as mine.)
There were also a whole host of garden-type accessories:
I desperately want an Edwardian sun shelter from Deckchair Stripes. Desperately. Again, however, it's not going to fit on my balcony . . .
I can, however, buy deckchair canvas by the metre. Not that I'm immediately sure what I'll do with it, but oh my goodness the colours!
And check out their bobble trim. Did you ever see anything so heavenly? Seriously, when I do have a garden, I'm going to know exactly how to accessorise it.
The other stand I fell for, totally hopelessly head over heels, was Rush Matters, which is a company owned by Felicity Irons, and I hope (crossed fingers) that we're going to be able to stock her products on English Abode.
Here is Felicity harvesting the rush.
Then she turns the rush into the most insanely comfortable cushions, as per this image, and rush rugs and mats etc. Did you know that you need to occasionally water a rush rug? Because I didn't. One of the things that she makes is rush bath mats; a bathroom, she explained, being absolutely the ideal place for rush to live because it gets watered on a regular basis.
And then she makes these utterly amazing rush shoes. When I have a garden, these are all I shall wear in them.
For now though, the garden is still far off - however long I spend reading gardening books and reviewing them on English Abode. But speaking of English Abode, we have got some rather amazing gardening pieces for people-who-don't-have-gardens, ourselves:
These Foodie Garden growing kits, for instance. Ready prepared trays for tomatoes, peppers, basil and more are all available (they take about a week to start germinating) and I've just ordered the lot. I'm very keen that Sholto and Esmeralda should have a chance to grow there own something this summer, and I'm hoping that the experience is going to go some way to stopping me buying an old Citroen van and setting off around England selling hydrangea and lavender from the back of it.
Because that's basically all I want to do at this precise moment in time. And looking at this, don't you?!
Grow London - www.growlondon.com - continues through Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm at the Lower Fairground Site, East Heath Road, Hampstead. Go.
For everything else, there's www.englishabode.com