Flowers of Scotland; There's Only One Place for Janet Wheatcroft to Be This Weekend and That's at Scotland's National Garden Show in Strathclyde Park

Article excerpt

WET feet, a blister on my heel and aching arms but I'm still very, very happy. I have just returned from gardening heaven.

Yesterday, Scotland's National Gardening Show opened its doors to an expected 60,000 visitors at Strathclyde Park.

The skies may have been overcast, but the showers could not disguise the flower of Scotland's gardening year.

Our national show has everything a good garden show should have and is a showcase for garden-related products, from the classy to the wacky.

It offers plants for sale that normally only appear in my dreams. And it puts forward the sort of inspirational ideas that have me raring to go in new directions. In fact, it's the perfect day out for every gardener.

I invited Gardeninglife readers Ian Macpherson and Kirstie Sneddon, of Dunfermline, to go with me. I've been helping them with advice and guidance as they work on their first garden. I've been keen that they develop their own ideas from the start and make a garden that reflects their tastes rather than mine.

Where better to go for inspiration than a show that offers just about every style of planting and design, and all with a Scottish emphasis?

We made straight for the display gardens to see what the professionals had to offer.

Kirstie was immediately drawn to the Citroen-sponsored plot, with its restful square pool and blue-painted pergola.

Midnight blue glass pebbles glimmered from below the surface of the water and glinted in the surrounding gravel. We're not planning a major water-feature for the Dunfermline garden, as Kirstie and Ian have the well-being of their two-year old daughter Brogan to think about.

But it would be nice to have some water somewhere and this idea introduces a bit of mystery and glamour.

I admired the Forget-Me-Not garden, designed for Alzheimer Scotland-Action on Dementia. It's meant as a prototype for nursing homes and day care centres, but has lots of ideas that could be adapted.

It concentrates on providing stimulation and a safe environment and I was impressed with the care and attention to detail. Smell is one of the last senses to go and is a powerful stimulus to memory. So scented plants and a herb garden figure prominently, and all paths lead safely back home.

Simple, familiar plants are used to jog recognition, and although the garden is safely enclosed, there's no feeling of claustrophobia about it.

Gardening is proven to be both life enhancing and healing. If only all care centres had the imagination to install gardens as well-thought-out as this one. If you care for a disabled or elderly person, check it out. I guarantee you'll pick up at least one idea for your own garden.

A browse through the plant stalls helped Kirstie with ideas for her problematic front garden. She had the feeling that she wanted an oriental theme, but couldn't envisage how to go about it.

As soon as she saw the bamboos and acers for sale, she knew immediately she had found the answer. Using these as key features, and filling in with stylish perennials would provide just the atmosphere she was looking for. It'll be a great way to bring character to a dull and featureless plot.

I couldn't resist the marvellous treasures on offer. The delicious summer scent of lavender led me to the wonderful display by Downderry Nursery.

If you think that lavender's just lavender, then look for their stand and the dozens of different varieties, a nostalgic haze of mauves, purples and whites. I had to buy a few, even though I find them difficult in my damp garden. They'll probably have to go in big pots next to a seat, where the scent will waft through the garden.

There were delectable pelargoniums from Fir Tree Nursery and irresistible cherry-pie scented heliotropes from Brian Hiley. Weird arisaemas (Cobra Lilies) from China shared stalls with sumptuous blue poppies from the Himalayas. …