Chaumont! Probably the best garden show in the world?

Chaumont: Gardening! –From Erotic to Rude.
As I write this blog I am reminded of a rather embarrassing episode that happened to me a couple of years back, when I visited the USA to do a radio interview on European garden trends.

It was for “W.H.B.S.Y. -coming to you from down-town Sacramento” (or something like that– all these radio stations sound the same to me!)

I had flown into San Francisco, on the late flight the previous evening.  Then driven 3 hours north east to Auburn, downed the better part of a bottle of California Red before collapsing in to bed, only to be woken at some ungodly hour the next morning, to drive back down the freeway to Sacramento, to do the “Garden Guru’s” 9am Saturday morning radio show.

Not surprisingly I was a little jet lagged, if not a little hung over. Definitely not a good combination when doing live public radio!

I was also extremely nervous, unlike UK radio, when you are lucky to get a 10 minute slot, this show was on for a whole hour with me being the only guest. The way I was feeling, I wasn’t sure I could manage 60 seconds let alone 60 minutes.

The studio was not what I had expected either and was little bigger than a passport photo booth. Rob Littlepage, who was standing in for the Don Yacuzami (the regular Garden Guru) squeezed his way back into the room and donned his headphones.

I sat down next to him but couldn’t get the door closed as my chair leg was blocking the entrance. After some discussion the door was left open and the producer Rick (or Ricky as he preferred to be called) bustled off into the next kiosk where he sat down behind a large glass screen and a bank for dials and buttons.

As I watched the seconds ticking away on the studio clock the intro. music faded in, sounding suspiciously like the theme-tune to the Archers:-and we were off.

Things started well, Rob did the introductions and thanked our sponsors. I manages to talk coherently for the first 20 minutes being periodically interrupted by callers phoning in to ask questions or publicise local events, the most notable being a ‘Toe-mat-toe tasting’, at the local nursery. “32 varieties!!! ……… I don’t know they had 32 varieties.”

I had just started to relax and let my concentration wane when Rob asked me about the contempory Garden show at Chaumont in France. All of a sudden I had a complete panic attack.

I should explain at this point that the French garden show has a theme each year and this year, typical of the French was ‘eroticism’. Knowing how prudish middle America can be, I new that this was not the subject for a Saturday morning breakfast show.

Unfortunately my mouth had other Ideas. Like a frozen rabbit caught in car headlights, I heard myself discussing one particular garden dominated by a pair of large 15ft high pink breasts.
My mind was screaming stop, but my mouth just kept on going. Rob had lost the plot at this point and was having a fit of the giggles.

The producer was wildly flailing his hand across his throat in a sawing motion and I was only saved by the timely interruption of an advert for ‘Sun Dance computers’.
On listening to a tape of the show afterwards, I had even managed to describe the viewing tower behind the garden for those people who wanted a birds-eye view of the giant mammaries.

Oh well, that’s probably the end of my radio career.
clip_image004Nesting Marigolds
As for Chaumont sur Loire I would thoroughly recommend a visit even if you don’t like gardening. I take the student from the Oxford College of Garden Design there every year.  The Chateau is situated at the top of a cliff overlooking the river Loire and the show is situated in the park behind the castle in about ten acres. You enter, down a spiral staircase build into the hollow of a tree.
Cross a bridge over a 50ft gorge to some steps on the other side and finally, up into the show ground. The exhibits are identical in shape and size and each surrounded by a beech hedge.
clip_image006Giant Corset
The exhibition attracts submissions from around the world with
every designer interpreting the brief in a different way.

From a nest of pink Marigold cloves to erupting luv bubbles (yes I didn’t understand this one either!) to a giant corset that you both walk through and round to a garden designed to imitate lingerie
clip_image008Erupting Luv Bubbles
The setting is beautiful, the gardens imaginative and the restrant is to die for. It has to be one of the best (if not the wackyest) garden shows in the world.
For further information on Chaumont-sur-Loire
Tel: +33 (0) 254 209922
 clip_image010Negligee screening