I always think that the wedding of Pippa Middleton marks the beginning of the English society season. Hang on, I’ve got that wrong – I meant the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. But, alas, not everything in the undergrowth is flourishing.
This year’s event only featured eight show gardens, down from fourteen last year, as sponsors wilted under the pressures of economic uncertainty and the ever-spiralling costs of supporting the prima-donna gardeners’ extravagant attempts at what is essentially a simple operation – putting a few plants together to make a pleasing arrangement. Even the show’s main sponsor, M&G, have announced that they upping sticks and seeking pastures new in 2018.
Mind you, if the box-tree moth gets settled in here, there won’t be much in the way of hedging to provide shape to the exhibits. I have only just got over the attack of box blight that devastated Monty Don’s box hedges last year and now, I learned this week, there is another pest anxious to rid us of our buxus sempervirens. The moth lays its eggs on the underside of box leaves and the hatchlings, hairy, black caterpillars, munch their way through the host tree’s foliage at a prodigious rate. The moths are spreading through south east England faster than any previous pest. If you see one, you know what to do.
I go to Halesowen quite often but have never made it to nearby Uffmoor Wood which boasts a fine collection of bluebells. A missed opportunity it would seem as our old friends, the Woodland Trust, have taken the unprecedented step of closing it to the public, after a spate of problems including excessive dog fouling, attacks on pets and farm animals, drug dealing and dogging. The dog poo wars continue.