greentapestry : Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner ?

Saturday 7 February 2009

Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner ?

Since VP suggested brightening up February by having a dinner party tonight I have been busy planning, shopping and cleaning. The house is sparkling in anticipation of my visitors who will be arriving this evening. In keeping with the cold weather I think that we will be eating something hale and hearty tonight, possibly a stew, maybe a regional speciality 'Scouse'. I am still thinking about the second course. I have a feeling that at least one of my guests is a vegetarian so I will be making an alternative. Himself has agreed to serve at the table so that I do not have miss one syllable of the scintillating conversation. He is just busy sorting out the wine at present …..........

Oh how tantalising the idea of being able to invite any gardener or nature lover past or present to come to dinner and how difficult to decide. To make matters more simple for me I opted for gardeners of the present.

My first guest is Beth Chatto who will not need any introduction to fellow plant lovers. I have read and treasured her books especially her ' The Garden Notebook' and 'The Green Tapestry', the latter inspiring my choice of name for this blog. I have also been fortunate to visit her garden at Elmstead Market on a very warm day in August a good few years ago now, but the images, sounds and scents are still vivid. I was stunned. I would love to talk to her about plant associations and about her many gardening friends including the artist
Cedric Morris and Christopher Lloyd.

Second on my guest list in Cleve West, garden designer, Chelsea gold medalist and allotmenteer. A couple of years ago I spent a weekend with a dear friend who lives in Hampshire. As a very special treat we attended a days course at West Dean House, where he was one of the guest speakers. Cleve's lecture that day was not on the subject that he is more well known for, but on his allotment which is a huge passion in his life. I would love to be able to pick his brain on vegetable and fruit growing, and to ask him more questions about how he constructed his compost bin which was not only utilitarian, but also most pleasing to the eye. Cleve himself is most pleasing to the eye so that is another reason for having him sitting just opposite me at the dinner table.

Number three is a down to earth Lancashire lass, a plantswoman, writer and television presenter Carol Klein. Carol always appears so bubbly and enthusiastic that I am sure that she would inspire even the most reluctant person into growing and gardening. I think of Carol as the queen of propagation and would relish the opportunity to quiz her on this topic.

Now I know that VP said that we had to restrict ourselves to 3-5 guests but I am doing a bit of creative thinking here. I hope that I can get away with it. My fourth guest is my parents – they come as a job lot:) Both into their eighties now they are the folk who inspired a love of plants and gardening in me. They planted the deep pink climbing rose and the honeysuckle, that we could smell from our bedroom window on the warm summer evenings of our childhood. They are both struggling with health problems now but still get great enjoyment from their garden. My mum has to use a walking frame, yet shows great tenacity and determination to plant and tend to her alpine bed full of her treasures. She shuffles on her derriere to get to where she wants to be and I am full of admiration. My mum is Italian and came to England in her twenties. She still misses the warmth of Roman summers. She misses being able to pick and eat apricots from the garden. She loves and cherishes the flowers of her youth including cyclamen and wild violets. She is also has a magical touch with houseplants including African violets and orchids. I just have to look at such plants from fifty yards away and they wither. Maybe she will tell me what her secret is.

My dad is the fifth child of a Fens farmer so he grew up on the land. He would have been happy to have stayed in that environment or in forestry but it was not to be. Dad is never happier than when he is outside, whether it is pottering in the greenhouse, pruning his beloved apple trees or just sitting on the garden bench in the shade on a sunny afternoon. As a younger man he grew a lot of fruit and vegetables, both in the garden and at an allotment where he could escape to for the odd couple of hours peace and contemplation. From my dad I would like to find out the secret to creating a near perfect lawn.
Having lived a good distance away from my parents all my adult life any dinner shared with then is to be treasured.

Last but not least I would like to invite VP to complete my guest list. Although we have not yet met I feel that she has a most lively, inquisitive, has a great sense of humour and that she holds plants and the natural world close to her heart. I am sure that she would be a joy to have as a dinner companion.

As long as my guests can make it through the snow, we should be in for some good food, great conversation and hopefully much laughter well into the small hours of the morning. I am just so relieved though that it is too dark to take them for a walk round my garden !

Now, that you have read this do go and find out who other garden bloggers are entertaining here at Veg Plotting.


  1. By the magic of the internet we've all made here through the snow and in the blink of an eye!

    I'd love to meet your parents, they sound a wonderful couple and what better way to meet with loved ones than with an impromptu dinner party?

    Your other guests were on my shortlist too, so I'm pleased to find them in your company so that I can have a chat with them as well :)

    And I'm extremely honoured to be invited to your dinner party Anna, so here I am? Where do I need to take this bottle of champagne for our celebrations?

    Now all we need is Hermione's time turner so we can get around everyone else's dinner parties and have all the conversations we've been dying to have with our gardening heroes.

    So glad you came out to play today Anna - all that cleaning up and preparation was most worthwhile ;)

  2. Anna - what a delightful dinner party guest list. Your parents sound fabulous, Beth Chatto was someone I thought about - her writing is so inspirational, and from my brief meeting with VP you have described her to a T.

  3. Your dad sounds like mine--a good choice indeed.

    I'm going to have to check out this Beth Chatto--I'm not familiar with her work, but she seems to pop up on quite a few dinner lists.

  4. Hi Anna
    Tell himself he has the night off - I'll come over and wait at table for you; I'll also bring the vegetarian course - avocado, spring onions, Italian (of corse) tomatoes and a little oil. All left to marinate for a couple of hours, then mixed into warm pasta when needed. Means I can listen to.ALL the chat as I waft around.
    P x

  5. I'm also a fan of Beth Chatto. I've read most of her books & would love to see her garden someday. I'm glad I'm not the only one who invited parents.

  6. Your parents sound very interesting! My mom is German and my dad is Austrian. They met in Australia, move back to Germany where I was born, and then moved to the U.S. in 1969. My mom still misses Germany, though I suspect it has changed a LOT since the 1960s! My dad grew up on a farm and hated every minute of it. My mom always had a veggie garden as I was growing up but for me gardening was only weeding and I didn't come back round to it until my early-mid 20s. :)

  7. I see we have chosen 3 of the same people! I'm sure you parents will enjoy the party. Have a great time.

  8. Hi there Anna:-)

    Great choices and a few from my working list too. Beth will be busy tonight – glad I decided to give her a night off here ;-)

    Yes, what a lovely mix of guests you have and asking VP – excellent, I thought on that too but thought she’d be a tad tired being the overall hostess of this evening. But then again, I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to be invited and by the magic of the interent will be over in a jiffy! However, to share your evening with your parents is just wonderful - what a fantastic evening you’ll all have :-D

  9. What fun! I hope you had a good time.

  10. Great list Anna, I'm not familiar with Beth Chatto, so I'm going to head off to the library. A great idea to invite people who have personally inspired you too, I was thinking of my Nan on my list. Cheers, Sam.

  11. I'm sorry I wasn't able to post by today. But I've enjoyed reading the plans you have made (as well as the others I've visited). I can imagine everyone around the table, anticipating Spring Weather!! :-)

  12. What a beautiful testimony to your parents. Although I love the other gardeners you mentioned, I think their inclusion really set this post apart. Just lovely.~~Dee

  13. Interesting guests, Anna - I thought about Beth Chatto and Carol Klein too, but as you saw I decided to just go for friends in the end. I also thought about my parents - they are both 80 and still stubbornly gardening, so your description of yours sounds quite familiar!

  14. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's not familiar with Beth Chatto, but I've seen her name on the guest list on several other posts, so I will have to do a little research on her. I think it's wonderful you've invited both your parents. I know my own parents fostered the love of gardening in me, though it took quite a few years for it to take hold:) My father would enjoy talking to yours--he retired from farming a few years ago, but can't stay away from growing things so he now puts his energy into vegetables and a few flowers.

  15. What a fine a thoughtful list of invitees. My mother still visits me often but I wish that I could share my present plantings with my Dad and grandparents, farmers and peasants all. My Dad used to say once a peon always a peon. I've always taken that to mean that you don't want to contact with the earth and it's certainly ok to get your hands dirty... :)

  16. Thanks to all of you who visited my dinner party and left a comment :) I had a great evening popping in to your dinner parties, enjoying generous hospitality, fine food, wine and marvellous conversation. Thanks to Pam for waiting on and providing the vegetarian alternative which was most yummy. Himself enjoyed the night off. A special thanks to VP who came up with this idea. It certainly helped to brighten up a February day :)


All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at :


- Anna.