Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Benches from RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Confession time. I'm afraid your bench correspondent failed on many many counts yesterday. First of all, I carefully charged up my camera, even nearly missed my train because I ran back to get it from where it was still charging, only to find I hadn't put it in my 'small going round Chelsea bag', and it was still sitting with the remnants of my packed lunch and the notes I'd been working on. ANYWAY resourceful as ever I turned to my brand new iPhone, and hey, only 10% of battery left. What can I say, it's new. I'm still playing with it.

However, enough excuses. On with the benches I did take, and the exciting bench trend I spotted.

Which is .... cue drumroll ... HANGING BENCHES...

Now, I know these aren't exactly new, but there seemed to be a lot more than I've seen before. Look this seat is even hanging from its own metal tree. Actually far less tackier than it sounds...

But apart from this excitement, benches remained as they are best. Peaceful, a little bit hidden ...

and sometimes with some words for added contemplation...

But perhaps best of all were the benches on the edge of the show - those around the edge of the Royal Chelsea Hospital itself, home to the famous Chelsea red-coated pensioners. If you look carefully you can see two, sans their uniform, sitting watching all the dresses go by and - I love this - very deliberately on the one bench in the shade on possibly our most beautiful evening yet this year.

Monday, 18 May 2009

A bench with personality

Found in the middle of the busy shopping precinct in Tunbridge Wells. I love how shoppers can sit here (on a non rainy day) and wonder a little about Pam.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Perfect English village bench

This is in the middle of Ticehurst in Sussex, which also has a brilliant second hand bookshop and cafe btw. Worth stopping for cake if you're passing.

(Just a pity about the very prominent bin)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Bench book...

Now I'm not normally a slow reader but it was about a year ago that Garden Monkey sent me a book all about benches, The Garden Bench by Mirabel Osler and I've just realised I haven't posted about it. S/he'd lightly mocked the idea that anyone could be interested in a whole book about benches, but having kept it close to hand for months now, I think it could even be a series. Forget about the other Pavilion ones, The Garden Path by Patrick Taylor or even The Garden Gate by Rosemary Verey. WE WANT MORE BENCHES.

(The one in the top left-hand corner of the rather blurry photograph above is made of stocks, btw. Anyone any idea where that could be?)

I've been trying to find out a bit about the author, Mirabel Osler, but even her Wikipedia page is brief. I do have her book, Secret Gardens of France hiding away on my bookshelves though (and I'm excited to see from Amazon that it is now worth over £100. Garden Monkey won't be getting that one back in a reciprocal swop.)

Anyway there's something about this little bench book that makes me think of secrets too, and perhaps that's why I love benches - they're public and yet become remarkably intimate. How many people always refer to a certain bench as 'ours' or 'mine' for instance?

This paragraph about a living bench makes me wish I had a big enough garden to play:

For years I have longed to make a 'living' seat. Willow would be best - the common crack willow (Salix fragilis) which strikes so easily. Pieces pushed into the ground at strategic places would take root in a flash and be pliable enough to be plaited. The back and seat could be woven into a kind of lattice work. Leafless in winter, how pretty in spring to see one's garden seat coming alive with slender leaves and catkins. But even more daring would be to try to make a living seat from wisteria, where a high back would curve over, absolutely sagging with flowers and scent. That vision is wildly heady - pruning would be a nightmare. More enterprise, gusto, daring and imagination should go into the planning, designing and siting of seats from the moment that the first border is planted.

Oh how much I would like to sit on a wisteria bench...