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Chelsea 0 – Hampton 1

Fanfare! Fanfare! Yes…the impossible has happened. I’m actually sitting down and writing some news for you all to see!

First things first. The countdown timer has changed from showing the date of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to showing the date of the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Why is this you ask?! Well, some of you already know!

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Let’s pick up where we left off with the last post, the one with the rusty television sets in it…

So, I submitted a design for the Fresh Garden category at Chelsea 2012, and was awaiting news as to whether the RHS would accept it or not; here’s the original design as a reminder:

Do Not Adjust Your Set #1

Well to cut a long story short, the design was very well received by the RHS, but they decided not to accept it for Chelsea..which although was disappointing to hear…was fully understandable. I’ve always said that the RHS are very supportive of me and my sometimes hare-brained schemes, and this time was no exception. They felt that this was more of a ‘conceptual’ piece and would lose the impact it deserved due to the intended size and location at Chelsea.

What the RHS proposed was that I revise the design, look at making it bigger, and resubmit for The Conceptual Garden area for the Hampton Court Show, or the Visionary Gardens at Tatton Park. All their comments made perfect sense, and I always respect their judgement in terms of steering me in the right direction – and so I set about revising the above design.

It was when I attended an RHS seminar late last year at The NEC that it all started to come together in a viagra soft tabs slightly different fashion. All I can say is that they gave me the most incredible feedback and encouragement; reiterating how much the RHS love my ideas, and how they want to see me produce something on a larger scale; spread my wings at another show; and if successful, sit down and discuss the future…it was all very promising stuff.

Funnily enough, they didn’t tell me off for polluting their twitter feeds with swearing and nonsense (that’s another story!)…hmmm….at least the #rhschelsea feed is back on their site…anyway…

So…bigger eh? Time to stop thinking on a small manageable scale Mr. GH…if you’re going to resubmit for Hampton Court or Tatton Park, then make it worthy of being there! Hampton Court was my preferred choice, i’m not one to shy away from a challenge, and the intended revision of the ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’ idea was perfect for this particular show.

With no time to waste (I had a very tight deadline for resubmission), I set about redesigning – a complete departure from the above – but keeping the essence of the idea. And instead of a 3m diameter cirele – I opted for an 8 metre x 6 metre plot…a slightly bigger task..but an exciting prospect!

“I wanted a garden of two ‘layers’ I suppose, a calm basis…
ready to bash to bits with a large hammer of chaos -
in the form of a single giant television set
crash landing and spilling its colourful contents.”

The whole ‘idea’ of this garden was about Television Sets ‘spilling’ their colour onto a monochrome landscape, and looking back at the above, there’s perhaps little distinction between the two areas. This would have been addressed at planting stage, I had a vivid mental image as to how the original garden would have appeared…but that’s irrelevant now.

I started to look at black and white test card patterns, the strips of greys, whites, blacks, the circular areas they sometimes exhibit; and loosely used this as a base for the revised garden. I wanted a really organised structure to this base, clearly defined strips and circular areas of planting, linked together with granite paving and utilising some mirror pools to give some deep black areas, give it some weight if you like.

Structured yes, but not overly busy or fussy – I wanted a garden of two ‘layers’ I suppose, a calm basis…ready to bash to bits with a large hammer of chaos – in the form of a single giant television set crash landing and spilling its colourful contents, completely ruining the peaceful monochromatic landscape beneath!

So this is how the revised design ended up…

And guess what…it got accepted! Hampton…erm…caught!

And so once again begins the daily routine of veering between panic and excitement, waking up in the middle of the night with a Eureka moment…then dissecting it and realising it was no good after all…etc etc…basically, the fun begins again, and I reckon this year is going to be even more fun than last year’s trip to GW Live!

I hope you’ll all join me on this journey to Hampton – and before you ask…yes, that large television set, I will be building it in my front room.



Bleating from the Back Yard

I’ve discovered recently that many gardening people I talk to have a similar obsession to me; I suppose a quite obvious one really; a wilful desire to a) buy seed (however obscure) and grow them, and b) a tendency to replace the fact that a plant isn’t ‘needed’ but with a need to ‘want’ a particular plant in the garden. Why is this? Because, quite simply, we can!

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In some cases, no real problem, many people have the space and equipment necessary to facilitate the correct germinating/growing conditions…for others (myself included)…ah, so what?! I’ve spoken about viagra pills where I live before, and the idea it gave me for a possible show garden. Exterior ground space need not limit the imagination when it comes to creating a pleasing environment and place to grow/nurture; yes, you might have to adapt and improvise, but do just that…and look upwards too.

I’m veering off at a slight tangent (again) i’m afraid; that’ll probably be the shiraz. Where was I…space, yes, my back yard. That’s it….it’s small. I couldn’t swing a miniature cat in it, let alone the one I have sat staring at me right now. Space however….that’s not the problem. It’s not mine. I’m renting the place while I plan my next move.

I have grand ideas for the yard; in fact I had grand ideas for my last back yard until I was unceremoniously ousted by the owner, who wished to move back in, I tended to her plants lovingly, even told her how to care for them once I left; brought her buxus back to life (!) and divided her plum pudding rather nicely if I do say so myself.

Grand ideas…renting…growing and propagating anything I can…there’s probably more than one post here, but I wanted to jot this down when I ‘mistakenly’ brought some Thunbergia seeds online this afternoon. Basically, I don’t have room to grow them! but I WILL FIND ROOM. That’s the point. I like them, therefore I will grow them. I have about 75 pots in my back yard, with an incredibly daft selection of plants. There’s no colour co-ordination, no real scheme, just things I like. Now don’t get me wrong; i’m a designer by trade, have been for the best part of 16 years, but unfortunately my interest in horticulture, and transferring my design knowledge to that area only began a few years ago; and in that time i’ve been constantly on the move. Hence the little bit of chaos that follows me, that snowball of a plant collection, that rolls with me and continues to grow. For goodness sake…I have a Californian Redwood in a pot, and a Titan Arum on my kitchen windowsill!

Look! A baby Sequoia! A VERY small selection of the plants i’ve collected

I know what should go where, I know about colour, space, texture, form, focus etc…but I also know that this home I have may be with me temporary. I’m slightly hesitant to invest time and money into someone else’s property; but if it benefits me, then why not? Like I said earlier, it’s a case of  adapting. I have 2 choices, sit here and let time tick by, thinking I might have to move at any time; or be optimistic and make it the best place it can be. Besides, there’s always the possibility that I could end up buying this house; so why not start to make a difference now?

There’s concrete paving underfoot, but water runs off nicely to the drain. There’s plenty of wallspace that gets the sun all day; and there’s a nice storage area; well, there’s two, but one is locked and I don’t have the key! I’ve been (mostly) collecting plants that I know will grow well in such a place as a typical Saltaire back yard; and i’ve been keeping them in pots until such a time comes that i’m able to give them a more permanent home, where they can flourish to the best of their abilities. So i’m going to settle on a compromise. I’m going to build some raised, possibly staged beds all around the yard, create a green roof on top of the outhouse (it’s a great space), and let my newly purchased Vitis coignetiae and Abutilon megapotamicum grow nicely against the sunny walls, while my Prunus cerasus sits happily trained against the shadier wall of the outhouse.

It’s going to be fun, and hopefully not as convoluted as this blog post. And at the end? It will feel like home.


Garden Heroes! Not one, not two, but three giant slices of gardening glory!

How do you turn 3 gardening icons into Garden Heroes? Easy!

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So, it’s about time I get organised and start blogging, and what better way to start than with a photograph of not one, not two, but three giant slices of gardening glory! To the uninitiated, that means Joe Swift, Cleve West and James Alexander-Sinclair. I could write a tome or two describing their exploits in the world of gardening, but i’ll introduce you briefly….

Joe Swift is a garden designer and well known TV personality presenting many gardening programmes and writing regularly for the Times and other gardening magazines. He has written books on garden design and his allotment. Joe is canadian non prescription viagra a co-founder of Modular Garden- an award winning garden design and build brand – and is the President of the National Gardens Scheme.

Cleve West has been designing gardens since 1990 and has won a total of five RHS Gold Medals for his show gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court. He writes regularly for the gardening media and even pops up on the telly from time to time. For all this he still likes to get his hands dirty, mostly at his allotment, growing food, building sheds and cooking the best onion bhajees in West London.

James Alexander-Sinclair has been designing gardens for ages. He began as a landscape contractor in London before moving to Northamptonshire in 1992. Since then he has designed gardens, both large and small, all over the country from the South Coast to the Western Isles. He has had show gardens at both the Chelsea Flower Show and the Westonbirt International Festival of the Garden. He writes regular articles for many garden publications, has presented television programmes for both the BBC and Channel 4 and lectures all over the place. And apparently trod in a poo yesterday.

I would love to admit that I was tracked down by these three fine gentlemen, and begged for a Garden Hero T-Shirt; but…haha… I would like to thank them all for indulging me to an extent, and putting a huge grin on my face by seeing the GH logo displayed by people who I consider to be true ‘Garden Heroes.’ Thanks again guys. And thanks for making orange underpants cool again!

Find out more about these fine chaps at the following places:

Joe Swift www.joeswift.co.uk

Cleve West www.clevewest.com

James Alexander-Sinclair www.blackpitts.co.uk

And see them in a less serious light at: