What a delight to see the centre of Alnwick buzzing with food and beer festival activity at the weekend.
But I wonder whether among all the excitement you noticed a little gem of a garden friend Stan Timmins had built in The Market Place?
In a space approximately 6x3m near the Northumberland Hall entrance, he constructed a representation of our region; coast, town and countryside.
There was a rowing boat in the county colours, with a splash of sea thrift and a selection of fuchsias which are good doers down here at the coast. Accompanying them was a range of plants you’d expect to find in our town or village gardens.
Colour from assorted dwarf cyclamen, polyanthus and chrysanthemum caught the eye. Herbs rosemary, sage and apple mint could easily have been harvested for the nearby cookery demonstrations had they run short of ingredients. And beetroot was there for good measure, reminding us of its ornamental qualities.
Large rounded pebbles, forged by riverside erosion, beautifully brought to mind the inland element. How often we have stood by the Breamish and admired them! A flagged pathway dissected the garden, suggesting an access route from Market Place to Shambles, which some visitors actually took, and a covering of gravel added the penultimate touch. Finally, two chairs made it welcoming and the sort of feature you want to pick up and carry back to your own plot.
Indeed, on the Saturday afternoon, Stan arrived to find a couple of ladies seated in the middle of his special creation, taking a break and enjoying the view.
Those ladies were not the only ones to grace Stan’s chairs. Sean Wilson’s cheese stall was situated next to the garden and he dropped in to examine it. The conversation quickly moved from show gardens to cheeses, at which point Sean shot off back to his stall bringing with him a sample of Mr Timmins’ declared favourite – Stilton.
Building show gardens is something that Stan does well. In 2003, he took a team from Newcastle City Council to Chelsea and created the Lindisfarne Gospels Garden which gained a silver medal.
Better still, a year later, he re-constructed it on Holy Island, where it is well maintained. I’m wondering what he can come up with for our celebrations next year when the Olympic Torch passes through the town!