Voting for the People’s Choice Award took place on the first two days of the show. All the ticket holders were asked to vote for their favourite garden and were given a voting slip with their tickets.
There were only two contenders for the award, Kazu Ishihara’s Japanese garden (garden B) and my English garden (garden C). Our gardens face each other at the foot of the Palace steps so we were well placed to see what each other were up to. Kazu is a well known face on Japanese TV – he’s Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh rolled into one – and had a steady stream of coach parties coming to see his garden. He has a wonderfully theatrical style and would jump up and down with enthusiasm as he described his garden to the visitors. Our tactic was to beckon his visitors over to us as soon as he had finished. I would end my talk with a rallying cry “Vote for C”, which always brought a laugh, as it was a very un-Japanese thing to do.
I’m told, unofficially, that we were ahead at the end of the first day, but lost out by a whisker in the end. I blame our failure on the fact that I had to take two hours off for an official function in the middle of the second day. But the organisers were kind enough to give me a consolation prize, which they called the “Special Hospitality Award”, which I was delighted to receive alongside Kazu at the Awards ceremony today.