So therefore it will be no surprise that I spent one day last week driving up and across half of the country to go and look at stuff.
The itinerary read as follows:
5.45 - leave Brighton. eat a whole bag of licorice allsorts for breakfast by the time the first service station is reached. fill up with petrol as I realise my petrol gauge is not working.
9.30 - arrive at the Three Counties Agricultural Society in Malvern to see what's occurring on site.
9.31 - find Nina and drink an enormous cup of coffee
9.32 - out onto site....And - the garden is looking amazing. Jim Steed and his guys at Outdoor Living Space are doing a sterling job with the detailing slick and bright.
The amelanchiers are blossoming (which is a bad thing, as they will probably be over by the show), the cherries are not yet (which is good), the turf is lush and the pool is Olympic. My excitement could not be contained as I took a whole load of pics before my short sleeved southern arms froze off in the biting midlands wind.
A couple of hours later and back into the minster to drive across the beautiful countryside to Northamptonshire where a section of polytunnel housed a chunk of planting for the garden.
The drive was lovely and quiet, and we stopped at a tiny pub in the middle of nowhere to have a spot of lunch. A goats cheese panini later and we were back on our way.
2.30 - We arrived somewhat later than we had hoped at Manor Farm Nursery, but we were welcomed by Gordon and the promise of a cup of coffee in ten minutes. We trundled up the track to the polytunnels to see the awaiting plants.
They are looking good - slightly smaller than we had all (including Manor Farm) had expected for the time of year, but we have been lulled into a supreme sense of complacency with the winters of late. The continued bands of snow have only extended the dormancy of the plants, who are really just starting to wake up to spring. We need sun, and we need it now to get the plants to their best for the show.
But Mother Nature will not be told. She will do what she does, and if required, I will source some extras for here daan saaaf where we live in a comparative Mediterranean environment.
3.00 - The promised cup of coffee was drunk (along with a biscuit) and we wound our little way back to the sunny coast.
6.45 - A total of 13 hours later, I sat down and ate chips for tea, exhausted, but content in the knowledge that it is all coming together...