Ever see an old guy jump with joy and click his heels in the air?
Exactly what I did when I first walked into the HUUUUUGE tent – over ten times bigger than my entire home property – that housed the astounding floral exhibits for the 2018 Royal Horticulture Society’s flower show held on the grounds of the majestic Chatsworth estate in the Peak District of north central England.
First thing I and all the other visitors saw was a pair of bottle trees adorning a major display, right under the big marquee. Not by a long shot the first of the many popular glass garden sculptures found at every RHS flower show, but the first authentic, home-made bottle trees. Ever.
I quickly approached the Hillview Hardy Plants nursery owners who created the colorful award-winning display, which features many cutting-edge as well as heirloom plants, and asked what’s up with the bottle trees. Ingrid Millington promptly showed me what inspired their bottle trees – a well-read copy of my own book Bottle Trees and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass which includes images taken all over the world, from home-made bottle tree whimsies to Dale Chihuly’s fabulous garden art.
They kept the book in a prominent place on the display, saying it was what helps interpret the trees to visitors who may not have otherwise gotten what was going on with them.
I grabbed the book, flipped to the back page where it had my author photo, and posed beside it until nursery owners Ingrid and daughter Sarah saw it and hugged me with delight. I quickly captured a short interview with them in which they agreed that bottle trees are… well, I won’t go into all that, you can find all sorts of history and lore about them, plus many dozens of photos, in a detailed page from my personal web site.
But wow – heart be still! To be honored as the inspiration for the crown jewels in a major Royal Horticulture Society flower show exhibit. Feels like I’ve arrived!
Ingrid and Sarah’s home-made bottle trees at the Chatsworth Garden Show
Here are three other garden glass images I took at this year’s flower show:
As celebrated English glass-and-steel sculpture artist Jenny Pickford once told me, “We’re just holding glass up to the sky where its colors can sing.”
Jenny Pickford creations at Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows
For info on Bottle Trees and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass click this cover image: