“The plants are just a small part of the business these days. The money is in the objects,” said Rob Francis, a Dorset garden center manager in London this weekend in order to spot trends.
“It’s been a real struggle to grow the plants this year, what with the cold weather,” said Ruth Gooch of Thorncroft nursery in Norfolk, tying up a display of Polish-bred clematises. “We’ve been holding some back from flowering and encouraging others. The flowers are quite giddy — they have been brought inside and taken outside so many times to make sure they bloom on time.”
She shows how to stimulate the buds by gently rolling them between her fingers.
“Do it too early and they are distorted. The iris people are amazing. They use hair dryers, but we don’t,” she said.
Neither the Garden Gnome Liberation Front nor the supposedly less militant Garden Gnome Emancipation Movement — which take gnomes from gardens to “free them” from “enslavement” in flower beds, lawns, gardens and centers — could be contacted on Friday, but the RHS said the gnomes were safe and being well guarded in its offices.