Music on the Moors – the Two Moors Festival does the Chelsea Flower Show

This week, I’ve left behind my nine-to-five desk job – five days off from writing stories about oak furniture, wahey! – and have hotfooted it down to London to check out the Chelsea Flower Show, hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society, for the first time. As a hay fever sufferer, I was somewhat trepidatious but my fears were certainly unwarranted as, in spite of the dust and the pollen, I only sneezed a handful of times and thus was able to fully enjoy the beauty and splendour of all the many gardens I was faced with visiting.

However, before I could traipse around taking in the 32 different plantations, I had to zoom off to the courtyard gardens where the Two Moors Festival’s site was to have a look at what my parents and their colleagues had achieved and it certainly didn’t disappoint me or any of the thousands of people crowding around the five-foot-by-five-foot plot.

Called Music on the Moors, the garden – designed by Christina Williams, her first such project and a first for the festival as well – was meant to represent both Dartmoor and Exmoor, seen through towering willow arches, as if through the windows of a church, and featured a multitude of plants, grasses, ferns, a hawthorne tree and, on press day, even a true-blue Devonian sheep waiting for her first brush with fame.

The peaceful surrounds were completed with granite blocks, an insane amount of moss, a music stand – complete with Schubert’s Die Schone Mullerin waiting to be played – a pond with a stream trickling down into it and a natural wooden seat. To my mind, part of the appeal of Music on the Moors was that – unlike so many of the other bigger gardens which, while undeniably impressive, are basically unattainable for the less well-heeled among us – it is completely achievable for all gardeners, demanding time, love and attention, rather than money, to reach the desired end.

In all, it seemed to cause quite a stir among those who made it to the front of the crowds, expressing their pleasure and surprise at how natural the overall effect was – and how much bigger it looked in reality than on the television. More than one person exclaimed that it looked as though it had been there forever, rather than having been constructed over a ten-day period and even local animals themselves were taken with the site, with a robin enjoying a refreshing bath in the pond and a pigeon perching in the bushes above.

Winner of gold and best courtyard garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2010

And the Two Moors Festival’s efforts did not go unrewarded at all – the judges clearly felt similarly to the many green-thumbed gardening enthusiasts and awarded it a gold medal and the accolade of best courtyard garden in show. So congratulations to the festival and all those involved in the creation of what was – and will continue to be, as it is being moved to the Calvert Trust at the end of the flower show – a truly beautiful and serene representation of what the south-west of the country has to offer.

A little taste of Exmoor and Dartmoor in the heart of London

Where the robin enjoyed his bath


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