Fate is a funny thing. Last week I came across a wonderful new flower shop, only to discover that they had contributed to one of the gardens at Tatton Park Flower Show.
I was visiting my friend Janice, who has just moved from Dorset to Lancashire, and I had planned the trip around the flower show. Janice is currently deciding what to do with her new garden - although
with a view like this you really don't have to do too much!
The day before the show Janice took me to nearby Cedar Farm for a coffee. The farm has been developed as a centre for artists and has a number of small independent shops plus a cafe located in the yard.
Cedar House, Back Lane, Mawdesley, Lancashire, L40 3SY
As we sat in the sunshine discussing politics (I know people say avoid religion and politics but Janice is vociferous, feisty and funny when it comes to her favourite subject, so it would be a shame not to enjoy her slant on things. And there was SO much to talk about!) anyway we had just moved on from Brexit to Corbyn and that is when I discovered The Potting Sheds.
(And yes, it is spelt with an s)
The small shop runs along the side of the cafe patio and it was a mass of inviting summer colour.
You have to love a flower shop that embraces bikes and dolls' houses.
Chatting to the manager, Katie, she told me they also have a landscaping part to their business and the rest of the team were out putting the final touches to one of the show gardens at Tatton Park. They were working with the designer Eileen Wood who had undertaken one of the "Back to Back" gardens at the show.
(Maybe I should have seen this as a sign of good things to come: Janice's surname is also Wood as was my mother's before she married!)
If you haven't been to Tatton Park Flower Show I can highly recommend it. It has the spacious feel of Hampton Court but was far less crowded.
There was so much I liked about it I have decided to summarise these into my Tatton Top Ten.
1. Plant Village
Each nursery that is exhibiting is given a plot for their design and the flowers that they use can be bought then and there.
Really useful, if like Janice, you are looking for plants and advice for a particular area of your garden. In her case an overgrown herbaceous border.
You can even find plants to match your sheep ... or do you dye your sheep to match your garden ... I've never been quite sure ...
Which leads me to 2. The Plants
There are far too many to mention, it was like being let loose in a sweet shop. This was just one I fell in love with, Digitalis 'Illumination Flame' from Brookside Nursery
3. The People
Everyone was incredibly friendly and keen to help.
And the horses weren't bad either!
4. The Horses
Amazing driftwood sculpture from James Doran (if you have the odd £30k to spare)
5. The Show Gardens
Well spread out and easy to view, here are some I particularly liked. Above: 'Coastal Retreat'. Gold in the Young Landscaper and Planting Designer section for Ewan Sewell and Lydia Knight.
Below: 'Cotswolds Connection'. Gold for young designer and planter, Sam Hunt and Lizzi Mills.
And for full blown fragrance, I want to sit and drink wine in Fryer's Roses' garden
6. The Sheds
In the centre of the show were a number of small 6 x 4 sheds each decorated in a different style. A shed for any occasion.
This was my favourite - and apologies as I have forgotten who created it.
There were other sheds that were more unusual, but this was just so pretty.
7. Attention to Detail
As you wander around your eye is drawn to the small touches that people have added to their landscaping or displays, and this (plus the sunshine) made me smile.
A bug nest inserted into a traditional stone wall.
A sprig of lavender tied with velvet ribbon - outside one of the Shed displays.
A water trough from the garden, 'The Waiting List'. A garden of calm created by Alison Galer who was once a transplant nurse.
8. Pink Vans
My advice is, no matter what your age, if you see a pink van head towards it.
9. Back to Back Gardens
I have a relatively small garden so can find grand landscaping schemes a bit overwhelming. I am naturally drawn to miniature gardens, like these award winning Back to Back gardens.
Above: Inner Sanctum. Winner of Silver Gilt. Designed by Rosalind Rosewarne and Charlotte Khan. Below: High Tide. Winner of Gold. Designed by Michael O'Reilly.
10. A View Within
No 10 brings us back to where we started: The Potting Sheds.
A View Within was the Back to Back garden that they helped the designer Eileen Wood create.
They won a Gold.
And it really was my favourite garden.