Taking over three halls at the NEC this week was Glee – sadly nothing to do with high school musicals, (although I did spot a polar bear playing the piano) but everything to do with gardens and what goes in them.
Spending a day at Glee is a bit like being allowed to wander around the world’s largest garden centre. Everything needed for the nation’s favourite pastime is here.
Ignoring the more mundane exhibits, namely mowers, greenhouses and sheds, although I’m sure they’re fascinating to some, it was straight into garden gift ware and plants to see what’s hot in gardening right now.
And it’s quite a mixed bag. Whatever the current gardening trend is, whether contemporary, vintage or formal, there is a whole host of products that are ‘must have’ for each. Definitely falling into the vintage category were the most gorgeous heart shaped picnic baskets, lined with rose fabric and romantically kitted out just for two with matching wellies should the weather turn a little wet.
Along the same lines were what at first glance looked to be quirky floral coffee pots, but turned out to be ornate indoor watering cans. Or, for the gardener who has everything, how about a hand made wooden box filled with bespoke gardening tools complete with a matching apron and umbrella. Very stately home.
Far less restrained than the country house look were the indoor pots and containers for house plants where zingy oranges and yellows really lifted the mood. There was even a ‘kitchen’ laid out with everything the indoor gardener/amateur cook would need. The reason for this? A black board which stated that ‘80 million herbs are sold in the UK each year’. A staggering fact which seems to show that we are as attached to our gardens just as much as we are to our food.
My absolute favourite however was a stand which, as a plant/flower sort of girl, stopped me in my tracks. Literally turning gardening on its head was a collection of green and flowering houseplants all growing upside down. These gravity defying plants included peace lilies, Christmas cactus and, most strange looking of all at such an angle, a Kentia palm. All suspended from the roof of the stand and not a drip of water in sight.
Being a gardening show you would expect loads of plants, but here Glee let itself down a little. Tucked away in the corner of one of the halls were nurseries and growers, but only a few. Although if you wanted to choose a Christmas tree (never too early in retail for Christmas!) then there was plenty of choice. There was even a bit of tinsel and a few twinkley lights to set the scene.
And as for the polar bear – he wasn’t real of course – just part of a wonderful band of animated bears which could be coming soon to a garden centre near you. And if they do, just remember, you saw it here first!
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