A special entertainment in Chichester offers a unique escape into “the nation’s favourite place, the garden.”
“It may be the hottest or coldest June 29 (7.30pm start) on record, but it really won’t matter,” says the night’s deviser Terry Timblick.
The venue will be Christ Church, off South Street.
As with his previous thematic presentations (Rupert Brooke, Elgar and humour), the Chichester-based retired journalist has enjoyed the preparation.
“The book pile includes Jenny Uglow, Penelope Lively and Anne Scott-James – each with a special take on the garden – plus extracts from the writings of gardening’s godmother Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West and Sussex-based Virginia Woolf.
“But there will be much more than fascinating extracts from their writings. Jokes about gardening sprout almost as fast as one-liners on golf and senior moments. Tommy Cooper put it neatly: ‘I took up gardening and all I grew was tired.’
“Vast clusters of poets too have rhapsodised about the garden.
“We’ve a poem about mowing by Larkin, thoughts by Hardy, Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson, comic verses by Noyes, a clever Kit Wright offering How To Treat the House Plants and Pam Ayres has taken an inspired squint at the subject.
“Our selection has too a couple of more dated items by H M Burnaby: Marrers and Crazy Gardening, perfect for the voice of former teacher Jo Knight.
“She has helped me before, as has Christine Rowlands, an Open Mic Poetry regular (writing and reading) at New Park Centre, and Howard Morgan will deliver material suited to his fine Welsh voice.
“There will be a new sketch (men totally outwitted by wives) acted by myself and Brian Baker, a very experienced writer/performer soon heading to the Edinburgh Festival.
“Our event might well be tagged a music-and-words entertainment, with a nice range of very varied performers.
“At the piano, for such solos as Country Gardens and Mayerl’s Marigold and as accompanist, we have the versatile Chris Coote.
“Following on from their Sanctuary concert on June 2 will be Rebecca Grove (soprano) and Stephanie Peat (mezzo-soprano) with songs including Faure’s Aurore, Vaughan Williams’ Silent Noon and the ever-popular Flower Duet from Lakme.
“A change of tone will come from singer/guitarist Mary Quiney with Someone’s been sending me flowers and If it wasn’t for the ’ouses in between.
“Reinforcing the point that a garden show like this has probably never been staged in Chichester before, there will be tables set out with promotional material for invited organisations: the Bishops Palace Gardens volunteers (a twice-a-week year-round service of maintenance and creation in this superb showpiece), Transition Chichester helpers who make productive that fenced-off kitchen garden area in the BPG; Chichester Organic Gardening Society, now in its 27th year of monthly meetings and summer outings.
“And for good decorative measure the Christ Church-based art group will have garden paintings displayed.
“The beneficiaries of the retiring collection,” Terry added “will be Save the Children and Christ Church’s ongoing refurbishment.
“Perhaps our event could become a perennial. Now that would be one up on the cathedral’s flower festival!”