Beware the British garden police

Photo courtesy of Lynn Hunt.
An American gnome reconsiders his plan to visit Britain.

A scandal was exposed at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show when a banned item was spotted in one of the lush display beds.

The illegal object was a garden gnome named Borage. Once spied, Royal Horticulture Society officials moved swiftly to have the gnome removed from the premises.

According to The Times of London, organizers were even more shocked to learn that one of the members of their own ruling council had been “implicated in the affair.”

Jekka McVicar, a 13-time gold medal winner at Chelsea, had put together what was described as a stunning display of medicinal and culinary herbs in the Grand Pavilion. Since this was to be her last appearance in the show she decided to place Borage, a tiny statue holding a fishing rod, behind some of the greenery.

A show official insisted that the “offending gnome be ejected” reminding the offender that gnomes are against the rules at the Chelsea Flower Show. The Times reports that the country’s gardening elite consider them to be taboo. (Is it just snobbery? asked the Guardian.)

Mrs. McVicar fought back saying her gnome was in “wonderfully good taste.” She went on to declare that he is “not brightly coloured … and is a subtle gnome.” She refused to extract Borage from the display but promised to cover him with foliage.

Apparently she was successful in her efforts since Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family were able to view the often-spectacular displays without further incident – and without having to avert their eyes.

Even though Britain is suffering through a recession, almost 150,000 tickets were sold for this, the 87th Chelsea show. It is not known if many of the visitors would have shied away had they known the outlawed gnome was lurking in the basils.

Then again, I’m assuming many who love Chelsea don’t consider themselves to be among the gardening elite. They just enjoy seeing all those fabulous flowers and plants.

And like me, probably didn’t realize gnomes are no-nos.

Psssst: Statuary can add a new dimension to most any garden. Soon we’ll explore some of the elegant and whimsical items available today. Maybe even a gnome or two!

Editor’s note:  If you like to take photos of flowers and gardens, do enter our monthly garden photo contest at Flickr: Gardening With the Monitor. It’s also a good place just to admire pictures of plants and gardens and chat with other gardeners.

Read more by Lynn Hunt, the Rose Whisperer, here, here, and here.

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