On the Eighth Day of Christmas . . .
If you read The Fifth Day of Christmas you'll know that last year we were lucky enough to get tickets to hear Sir Paul Smith in conversation with the garden designer Luciano Giubbilei.
Keen to make the most of our trip to London we decided to stay for a couple of nights and organise a botanically themed break. Given that it was May, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was in full-swing so that would have been an obvious event to include on our itinerary. Indeed, we did go to Chelsea but instead of heading to the main entrance of the Flower show, we turned off down a quiet road towards the Chelsea Physic Garden.
Established in the seventeenth century by a group of apothecaries who wanted to learn more about the plants they were using to treat their patients, the garden is a living display of the way in which so many aspects of human endeavour are still interwoven with botanical life. From medicine, food production and land restoration to the arts, fashion and perfumery, our world depends, to a large degree at least, on the wellbeing of the plants with which we share this planet. This being so, I am in awe of Mother Nature's superlative ability to combine form and function so that the aesthetic and practical value of so many plants is perfectly balanced. And if beauty and usefulness can coexist so harmoniously in the natural world, is it naive to seek such harmony in everyday human life? Perhaps then the challenge facing us all as we stand on the cusp of the New Year, is to actively seek out moments of sublime loveliness as we struggle with the practicalities of trying to make our world a better, safer place to live in 2017 and beyond.