Can you tell me what that plant is?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Show week at Chelsea, and it’s been a delight to meet visitors and speak to them. Rather gruelling after some rather long (and hot) days during Build-Up, but such a pleasure to hear the response to our garden. Here is a typical day manning the garden!

Visitor: This is fabulous! My favourite garden so far

Me: Thank you, glad you like it!

V: How wonderful to see some colour at Chelsea at last, it’s about time

M: Yes, we love colour in the garden, too

V: Can you tell me what that plant is, the tall yellow one. Is it a Delphinium?

M: No, it’s a Verbascum ‘Cotswold Queen’ and its from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants in the Pavilion

V: Did you make the mosaic yourself?

M: No, Maggy Howarth designed and made it – she’s the best in the country for these pebble mosaics

V: What is the name of the shorter iris at the front of the border?

M: Iris ‘Jane Phillips’  – the other one is Iris ‘Superstition’

V: Did you make the mosaic on site when you built the garden?

M: No, it was made off site and took three months to create

V: Do you know what the Pavilion is made of?

M: No!

V: Did they lift the mosaic in one piece into the garden?

M: No, it’s made in sections and put together on site, rather like a big jigsaw

V: Can you tell me where the aviary is in the garden?

M: Its the big blue building taking up half the garden!

V: Is that double flower a tulip?

M: Yes, ‘Cassablanca’

V: Was the mosaic always here and then you created the garden around it?

M: No, we had the mosaic especially commissioned and made for the garden. There was nothing here when we arrived except grass

V: I think you were robbed, you should have got Gold and Best In Show! This is by far the best garden here – I love it!

M: Thank you, so do we!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

Garden Photos

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010


Helen Shaw, our official photographer for the day crept into the garden at first light on judging day and took some atmospheric photgraphs before the sun became too bright and crowds too dense.  She also managed to capture some of the celebs as they went by. This slideshow has a selection of her photos accompanied by Lynyard Skynard singing Free Bird.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

Press Day

Monday, May 24th, 2010


Monday is press day, which means cameras and lots of them non-stop all day. Philippa and I began with interviews for the BBC then our local ITV stations followed by TV companies from all over, including Iran and Slovenia. Monday is also the day for celebrity spotting; for me the star of the day was undoubtedly our local reporter Katie Robinson from the North West Evening Mail who came armed with a video camera and was ruthless in pinning down every celeb who came by. This link is of a video in which captured interviews with Ringo, Piers Morgan, Jane Torvill and many others, all of whom she coaxed into say extravagantly flattering things about the garden.
http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/lakes/chelsea-flower-show-garden-is-fab-says-ringo-starr-jayne-torvill-and-piers-morgan-1.712101?referrerPath=home/2.3320&resourceView=video&index=1#video

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

Final Preparations

Monday, May 24th, 2010


Gala Night at the Chelsea Flower Show is said to be the first day of the ‘season’. Only the glitterati can afford the tickets which sell for £328.  We get our tickets for free but whether we will be in any fit state to enjoy them is another matter. Nothing could be less glamorous than the final rush to get the garden ready. A dust cart has been parked opposite our garden all day churning rubbish noisily at 10 minute intervals.  One of the adjacent gardens has a crisis with its pond and has to get help from ‘Caroline’s Effluent Services’ and Caroline’s large pink tanker pumps out the offending pond water very noisily and very smellilly. This video shows Philippa trying to do some planting against this backdrop of mayhem.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

The aviary has landed

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

First day on site

The aviary settles in

Carl's beautiful Lakeland wall

Hellebores looking good at Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants

It’s been nearly a week on site and work has been feverish. By Monday, the boundary hedge was in and on Tuesday morning the aviary arrived from its long journey down from Kendal. Built in sections, it was simply placed in its allotted position in the garden and bolted together. Chelsea Show Manager, Alex Denman, says it looks fantastic and visitors will love it! We wondered if the bright colour was perhaps a little too bright but even with the barest planting in the garden, it looks imposing and rather grand.

Carl has built a stunning Lakeland wall using stone brought down from near Ullswater. He’s coming back at the end of the week as we decided to raise the hedge and build another terraced wall for this area. Today, the mosaic path arrives and will fitted together like a giant jigsaw: Kirkstone’s gorgeous slate paving will be put in place on the terrace so that by next Monday, we’re ready to think about planting. Plants have benefitted from the cooler weather, keeping everything in perfect condition as I found out when I visited Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants in Whitchurch, Hampshire on Tuesday.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

Are You a Homeless Person?

Monday, May 10th, 2010


The build-up at the Chelsea Flower Show is so surreal that it hardly came as a surprise to be asked “Are you a homeless person?”. In fact I felt quite proud, almost human for an instant. The solicitous enquiry came from the organisor of the Eden Project garden, shown in this video here. He had seen me going about with my cloth cap (on my head, I should add, not being proferred for small change) and Flip Video and he mistook me for one of the homeless because his garden is being built by homeless people and they have been provided with Flip videos to record the event. In fact, so he told me, the Eden project garden has also been designed by the homeless. A very brave experiment. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

Tranquility in a Japanese Garden

Saturday, May 8th, 2010


15 show gardens are being built cheek by jowl and the noise is overwhelming. Each garden has a digger, a cement mixer, a dumper truck ; there is a constant stream of lorries making deliveries and of cranes lifting plants and materials into the gardens. In fact it’s a dangerous business taking photographs- I was very nearly mown down by a lorry carrying portable loos. Being mown down by a portable toilet is not the ideal way to meet on’es end- there wouldn’t be a straight face at the funeral.
In the midst of the cacophany is one oasis of tranquility- the Japanese garden being built by the renowned Japanese designer, Ishihara Kazuyuki. This video shows his workers, all of them Japanese, preparing some stone-work and the sound of their hammering is almost musical.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

The Mosaic Takes Shape

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

When Maggy needs more pebbles for the mosaic she is building, she doesn’t just pick up the phone and order them from her supplier. She goes in person to the beach in Anglesea where she has a licence to collect them. She has just returned from two back-breaking days of hard labour individually picking out some more white limestone pebbles, of just the right shape, size and colour. Meanwhile Mark, her assistant, has been cracking on with the border, all 15 metres of it. They decided in the end to use blue-black slate to intertwine between the white pebbles because it would look crisper. A good decision- the effect is stunning. The photo above shows a section of the border and the one below shows Mark fitting the pieces together. Final casting is set for next Thursday. Phew.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

Iris eyes are almost smiling

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Iris 'Jane Phillips'

A week today and we’re on site at the 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. There’s more than a touch of tingling excitiment as we are looking forward to getting this garden created and ready to show off to the visitors and, of course, the judges! Last minute details are being poured over from what crockery set to dress the table with to how all the plants are looking. Jonathan is commendibly overseeing everything to do with the aviary and Maggy Howarth’s stunning pebble mosaic: the aviary is being painted this weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished result!

This morning as I drove through Cambridge my heart had a somewhat large flutter when I saw some blue irises in full bloom in someone’s garden. We have Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ and Iris ‘Superstition’ in our Chelsea garden, being grown by Kelways (who are also growing paeonies and ferns for the garden). I know the ferns are looking good but a frantic e-mail on my return from Cambridge has gone to Dave at Kelways asking for photos of our irises. I’m really hoping they haven’t gone over! The picture above shows Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ at Brocket Hall. All our tulips at Jacques Amand are now in cold storage to hold them back: these will be the last plants we put in during the Saturday/Sunday before the show opens as any earlier and they will have gone over too much for the judges. Next week I’m going to see how the trees, hedging and shrubs are doing and I’m hoping that the beautiful medlars will be ready to flower in time for judging and show week.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter

An eye for detail

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

This photo is of a section of the peacock’s tail, showing the wide range of pebbles which Maggy is using, including semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, for the mosaic which will form the path leading to the aviary in our garden. Thousands of pebbles and stones will be needed, so many in fact that Maggy announced today that she is running short and will have to make an excursion to Anglesey where she has a special licence to collect pebbles from a secret location which is owned by a titled gentleman there. I’m flabbergasted that with time running so short she has the time and energy to travel for five hours for the back-breaking task of hand-picking pebbles.
The lapis lazuli are mined in Afghanistan. Formerly, lapis lazuli was ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint and, sometimes, oil paint. The ultramarine colour of the stone will be a perfect foil for the ultramarine paint on the aviary.
The picture below shows Maggy choosing the stone for the Peacock’s eye. She plumped for the one in her left hand.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Twitter