Hewson On ... Splendid shows are there to be enjoyed

So another spring has passed and with it a quite splendid RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The sun shone brightly, the show gardens were postcard pretty and Monty was in his pomp. Indeed, congrats all round to the Beeb for its excellent and seemingly endless coverage - no expense spared but much cheaper, I'm sure, than this summer's World Cup coverage and probably Wimbledon too.

Where has Monty been these past Chelsea years? I thought he was excellent and the star of BBC's show - relaxed, informed and completely at one with his audience. It always struck me as rather odd that he was overlooked for so long in favour of Alan Titchmarsh as main anchor on Gardeners' World. I particularly enjoyed Monty's questioning of the RHS and its new, and well received, judging protocols for the show gardens - more structure, better feedback.

For me, his coup de grace lay in the question: "Is there a tick box for love?" His point was that while medals are indeed a treasure, they're not the be-all and end-all, so cheer up if you missed out. In essence, it's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts, so let's enjoy the show and the pleasure it gives to us all. Likewise, the upcoming summer gems that are Hampton Court and Tatton Park. Enjoyment is surely what such soirees are all about.

Of course, I have not always seen it this way, having done Chelsea show gardening myself in the distant past, led by the great Bob Legg, former Regent's Park chief and no stranger to gold medals. I'm pretty sure Bob wanted to win but he always did so with a smile and a great sense of fun.

Anyway, not all show gardens will, of course, be to everybody's taste. But that's not their point. Surely they and the glorious displays of the great marquee are there to fire our imaginations, showcase the industry and inspire us all. If they make us less ham-fisted with our own little patches of green heaven and inspire a new generation of gardeners along the way, then all the better. I mean, isn't that the whole point?

Andrew Hewson is a freelance writer and columnist


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