RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010

Posted on 26th May, 2010

We are just coming up for air after 7 long and hot days working at this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Gardenmakers returned once again to assist 4 times Gold medal winning designer Andy Sturgeon with the planting up of his garden designed for The Daily Telegraph.

The theme of the garden was a modern gravel garden using plants mostly suitable for dry Mediterranean conditions. A good thing as it turned out because for once Chelsea build up week was blessed with wonderful dry and increasingly hot weather. Another first, was the absence of the famous “Chelsea Flu”, the terrible hayfever generated by the pollen from the great London Plane trees that stand tall over the show ground. The long winter had delayed the shedding of the pollen by a week or so, with the result that we had a week free of the normal itchy eye, nose and throat that affects almost everyone who works at the show.

Being part of a team working on one of the large show gardens at Chelsea is a fantastic experience. Teamwork is crucial to the success of the garden, and everyone pitches in to do their bit. The guys building the garden had been on site 2 weeks prior to the arrival of the team of volunteers who help with the planting side. The final week is a big push to get the hard landscaping completed and water features working before the final stage of planting can begin. The big trees and larger shrubs had been craned into position at an earlier stage of the build with the smaller shrubs and herbaceous plants left for the final week. We had a great team working on the garden – all striving for perfection in the execution of Andy’s vision, to ensure another gold medal.

Slowly as the week progresses all the gardens begin to come together. Trolley loads of plants surround the gardens screening them from view, but as plants are transferred from trolley to garden, the site begins to clear and the gardens emerge and one can start to get a sense of the themes, colours and features that will define this year’s show. It is an exciting time and great to be a part of it. By Friday, it's a final hard push to get the last plants placed and composted into position. Primping, preening, cleaning and checking starts in earnest to make sure everything is looking totally PERFECT for judging. One hour spent clearing one plant is nothing – it's a time that calls for patience! Not everyones’ virtue!

Sunday sees the press and TV starting to build up their coverage. The judges do a preliminary assessment of the gardens to get an idea of how the medals might be awarded. Final bits and pieces are pulled together. Monday is the day for the Queen’s visit, more press and the Gala. The job is done and it’s time to wait. For those in our garden, the effort wasn’t just about producing a Gold medal winning garden. This year more than ever, Gold wouldn’t be enough on its own, the result we wanted – for Andy, was the ultimate accolade – Best Show Garden, something he had yet to achieve. This year it had a particular emotional significance that resonated with many of us and was keenly felt by Louise and I.

Tuesday (Medal Day ) and only yesterday……FANTASTIC NEWS another GOLD for ANDY but even better – BEST IN SHOW. Tears, Champagne and a long day of celebrating by all the team. A cracking garden, by a cracking designer who well deserves it …and we are proud to have contributed in some small way to helping make it happen.

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