Archive for February, 2010

Chelsea Flower Show Site Visit

Friday, February 19th, 2010


Excitement is in the air as we have a peek for the first time at our “plot” at Chelsea . Philippa and Alex (the show organisor) are pictured here in exuberant mood on Main Avenue in front of what will, in less than three month’s time, become the Victorian Aviary Garden. The site couldn’t be better because we’re on the main thoroughfare close to the main entrance through which 70% of the visitors enter- that’s up to 50,000 people a day.
The only times I’ve been here before have been on show days, when the site seems vast- almost impossible to get round in half a day- but today when there are no buildings or people- or gardens!- the space seems impossibly small. It’s just a gentle stroll from one side to the other.
The video below shows the full panorama, with a glimpse of Philippa, Alex and Mark Richardson (the guy who will be in charge of the build).

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The Peacock Throne

Monday, February 8th, 2010


Peacocks have been a feature of our Victorian Aviary Garden from the start. In our first submission to the Chelsea panel, when the garden was called “A Bird Lover’s Garden”, we had Peacock chairs on the Aviary terrace. The idea of the chairs didn’t survive the first draft but the peacock imagery re-emerged when Maggy Howarth designed her lovely peacock mosaic for the pathway leading to the aviary. Today we have learned that the aviary which inspired ours, the one at Waddesdon Manor, was built in honour of a visit in 1889 by the Shah of Persia, the occupier of the Peacock Throne. The Shah’s host was Baron Frederick de Rothschild, who completed the magnificent rococco structure just in time for the Shah’s visit. This is how the aviary was described by the Bucks Advertiser at the time:
“The enlarged Aviary was only completed just before the Shah’s visit and is now a little showground in itself. There is a superb collection of birds such as parrots, doves and pheasants of the brightest plumage, and with every arrangement for their well being in the shape of lofty caged enclosures. The aviary surpasses that of the Zoological gardens…”
It’s good to think that, however inadvertently, this peacock imagery has been carried forward over 121 years.
My thanks to an article by Sophieke Piebenga in the Historic Gardens Review for these fascinating details.

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Watercolour

Saturday, February 6th, 2010


Tina Bone, who comes from Camberton, Cambridge, down Philippa’s way, has produced this exquisitely detailed, wonderful watercolour of our Victorian Aviary garden for the Chelsea Flower Show. This is the image which will go into the official Show brochure and which will accompany all our press and media releases in the run up to the show. I’d be perfectly happy to rest on my laurels now, but apparently its the done thing to reproduce in real life what you promise in the brochure. Will this be possible, or has Tina set the bar too high? I now understand why so many of the gardens in the show brochure are represented by vague artists’ impressions.

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Maggy’s Magnificent Mosaic

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010


I know I’m biased, but I think this design is stunningly beautiful. This is our first glimpse of the pebble mosaic designed by Maggy Howarth, which will form the 3 metre wide and 4 metre long pathway in our Victorian Aviary Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. All the large show gardens are on Main Avenue and we are lucky to have 15 metres of frontage to Main Avenue next door to Darmuid Gavin’s garden and looking onto the Laurent Perrier and Daily Telegraph gardens which are on the other side of the street. Maggy’s mosaic will be right alongside Main Avenue, along which 150,000 visitors will walk and no doubt look on in awe. If there were any such thing as a show stopper at Chelsea, this would be it.

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The Slate with the Golden Thread

Monday, February 1st, 2010


Cumbria produces the best slate in Britain, from three mines, but only one mine produces slate with a golden thread. The mine with the golden thread is Kirkstone, whose genial proprietor, Nick Fecit, has kindly agreed to co-sponsor our Victorian Aviary Garden for Chelsea with the supply of the slate for the floor of our Aviary. The golden thread will marry well with the gold-leaf decoration of the Aviary. I spent the morning at the Kirkstone workshop at Skelwith Bridge choosing the slate which we will use. It was fascinating to see the processes used to produce the various slate finishes- from walling stone to polished worktops. This video shows Nick and some of his skilled craftsmen working on the slate.

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