Dressed To Kill
Secateurs, wire-cutters, dust sheet, dirty clothes, trowel and spade - not quite the usual accessories in an evening bag for an soiree at the opera. As I got out of the London taxi at the gates of Holland Park the driver couldn't resist eyeing the handle of my spade sticking out of the bag: 'Going to bury a body are we love?'
Yesterday's client was a site more associated with models than mud, where cuttings mean fabric samples and shoots involve cameras and elegant girls. For my favourite planting assistant the most pressing question for the day was not just what to take, but 'what to wear'?
The space was tight, a fourth floor courtyard on Bond Street, surrounded on all sides by the floor to ceiling glass of directors' offices - having a meeting going on four feet away from us in the afternoon felt like gardening on stage. I'm not sure it's going to make it as a spectator sport, but my lovely assistant does raise the tone when it comes to builder's derriere.
It's a small plot so everyone gets involved in the final detail - from moving planters to shovelling soil and washing pebbles. There is a Japanese theme to this garden with its reflection pool, bonsai Ilex crenata and shoji screen. I wanted to introduce a place of calm and stillness into the whirling world of high class women's wear - the evergreen plants, forms and layout were chosen to represent continuity and communication, for this is business that has survived and thrived as a family firm through turbulent times.
The final build goes well thanks to Chris and his tireless team who have been on site over the past few weeks. After a long day only the lighting remains to be checked, but it won't be dark until ten and my other life calls. There's no time to go back to Kent to change, so I duck into the sumptuous powder room in my muddy smock, and duck out a few seconds later as corporate wife.
The opera was fabulous, the evening as sultry as the girls outside the cigarette factory. Carmen bewitched us all, but in the final scene the taxi driver was right, and there was murder in Holland Park.
(Thanks to Chris for his camera-phone photos)