@gardenhero:

Honey….I Shrunk the Shed…and had a great time doing it!

Well, as per usual it’s taken me a while to find the time to post anything since my return from Gardeners’ World Live! It’s old news now, and all forgotten about with the RHS Hampton Show looming, but I thought i’d just recap on my first attempt at a show.

paxil cr side effects

I have to admit, putting a countdown timer on my site wasn’t the greatest idea i’ve ever had! In fact, when I first put it on there, it read 111 days until NEC build…which was fine…but then as I looked at the site over the next weeks, it seemed to almost immediately drop to 7 days until NEC Build…and the panic really set in!

It wasn’t real panic, i’d been pretty organised over the time since I knew I was going to exhibit, ensuring I had the plants I needed and that they were growing as hoped (almost), but i’d admittedly, as is my usual habit, left a few things until the last minute. The now infamous earthworm still had to be finished, and the paving slabs that had to be cast….erm…had to be cast!

Here’s the original design (just in case you’ve forgotten!) as shown on the flier I handed out, and it was pretty touch and go whether the final result would end up remotely similar!

Anyway, everything came together quite nicely for my little adventure, and the van was loaded in preparation for the journey south to Birmingham NEC. Three days to build…no problem!

Van packed and ready to go!

We arrived on the Friday evening, dropped everything off at the Hotel, and proceeded to relax at the Hotel for a couple, *ahem* a few hours…in preparation for the next morning! The first day of the build went very well, laying all the grasses in position prior to any digging, and they all looked beautiful, standing proud in the Birmingham sunshine. The height, the textures and the colours all merged together as I had imagined, and the soft Hakonechloa I used as a surround was quite magical when a gentle breeze took hold and rippled through the planting. After a good day’s work planning, laying slabs, planting and okay, mostly chatting to neighbouring exhibitors, we packed up and headed back to the hotel, eager to start another productive day on the Sunday.

The empty plot awaiting grasses and a giant worm!


“The height, the textures and the colours all merged together as I had imagined,
and the soft Hakonechloa I used as a surround was quite magical
when a gentle breeze took hold and rippled through the planting.”

Paving slabs laid, and grasses in place!

So Sunday….no sun, just high wind and heavy rain. A bit of a disappointment after the previous day in terms of how much we achieved, but the garden was still taking shape. The grasses had pretty much been battered overnight by the weather, the Hakonechloa looking a bit…well…flattened, a world apart from their light and billowing appearance just the day before. Added to this, my giant earthworm suffered an accident, almost splitting in half, so emergency repair was also required for him on this day of disaster! Still, although soaked to the skin and squelching with every step, the garden was a step closer to being completed. One day left.

“As usual, my lovely Twitter friends rallied, giving me words of encouragement;
the weather  was a good omen, there to settle everything in
and perk everything up just in time for judging day.”

Battered…but not beaten!

I admit, I was pretty despondent after this day, and thoughts of simply getting the job done took over, a worrying contrast to the anticipation and excitement of the months leading up to this time. As usual, my lovely Twitter friends rallied, giving me words of encouragement, the weather  was a good omen, there to settle everything in and perk everything up just in time for judging day. They knew how much i’d looked forward to this, how much work had been put in, and I in turn knew how much support and encouragement they had given me in the time leading up to this, and you know what…it was at this time that they really helped, and they were also correct…

I got back to the NEC bright and early on Monday morning to see how everything was looking, and to my surprise everything was looking good. The grasses had indeed perked up, the worm was happy (although a bit wet) and I suddenly felt far more optimistic. So optimistic in fact, that I obviously felt it necessary to chat to everyone else excitedly, and share our experience so far, and after three hours had passed I realised I had managed to plant the total of 5 Ophiopogon and 3 Heuchera. Hmmm…best knuckle down I thought! I had though, in those 3 hours, had to wander off to the Floral Marquee to visit the lovely Jooles and Sean from Heucheraholics, who kindly supplied me with the Heuchera cultivars that I needed, so it wasn’t all unproductive!

So…I did indeed knuckle down, planted everything else, and put the finishing touches to the garden by dropping on the chosen aggregate, some LECA, or Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate….perfect for giving the impression of giant soil particles!

But when all was finished…and I was happy with the end result….one question remained…..would the judges ‘get it’? It’s not every day you see a 20-foot long earthworm and a Playmobil figure at the NEC i’m sure, so in my eyes the whole ‘story’ could go either way when it came to judging; the plants looked great, I was confident of the selection and the combination, but topped off with a giant earthworm? I’d have to wait and see….

Mini GH and The Giant Earthworm (Thanks to Charles Hawes for the pic!)

Judging Day! 7am sharp at the plot, checking it over, making sure it was as good as I could get it…and at 9am myself and the fellow Birmingham Border exhibitors made ourselves scarce, so the RHS judging panel could do their thing.

“Of course, it goes through your mind about your chances of winning a medal, and if you did, what colour it would be;
i’m sure everybody does that. My expectations were low…I was confident in my ability to design,
but how successful would I be in bringing that design to life in terms of it being viewed by fresh eyes, when i’d been so close to it for months?

It’s a funny feeling, as some of my more experienced Twitter friends will agree with, waiting to be judged, even at this starting level. I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with the judges and explain my concept, but I hoped my brief was all I needed to bring the story and the garden together. I’d had some great feedback from fellow exhibitors throughout the build, they all thought I was going to do really well, but I wasn’t so sure. Being my first time, I just had no idea of what to expect; and although it’s easy to say, just being a part of the whole exhibition and experience, the build, the banter…I was there, I was part of Gardeners’ World Live, I had successfully built my first, albeit small, show garden. So..I was a very happy man.

Of course, it goes through your mind about your chances of winning a medal, and if you did, what colour it would be; i’m sure everybody does that. My expectations were low…I was confident in my ability to design, but how successful would I be in bringing that design to life in terms of it being viewed by fresh eyes, when i’d been so close to it for months?

I won’t bore you with the details regarding the late result, and the fact that I had to wait until Wednesday morning to find out…suffice to say that my Twitter feed was going a bit crazy, asking if i’d found out, wonderful Twitter friends waiting as impatiently as myself!

So I did find out eventually….us Birmingham Border exhibitors sat on Picnic Hill, spied an RHS person placing cards on the edge of our gardens. “Shall we go and have a look?” we all asked each other. What a silly question! Strolling nonchalantly (!) across to our plots, we were happy to see that every single one received a medal. And when I saw mine? I almost fainted! The lovely Sandra, who was on the plot behind me said later, “Your little face when you saw what you’d got…” and she was right. Not about me having a little face, but the look on it.

A Silver-Gilt. How the bloody hell did I manage to get that?! I was gobsmacked! Overjoyed, amazed, and grinning like a chsehire cat, I was in total disbelief. I had difficulty convincing myself that I would get any kind of medal, let alone that one!

The judges ‘got it’. They appreciated the plants, the planting, the brief, the worm, the way it all came together….and they appreciated my sense of humour! What more could I have asked for? Apart from anything else, it was just so refreshing to know that my slightly bonkers idea was rewarded with appreciation and encouragement from both the RHS, and the visiting public.

I’d always said that my ambition was to put a smile on people’s faces, cause them to scratch their head, point and wonder who on earth would come up with such an idea, and that’s exactly what happened over the course of the next few days when Gardeners’ infopharm.com World Live was open to the public. Crowds gathered, the majority of people looked at the garden, then looked at the brief, then nodded and smiled in appreciation. How fascinating it was to stand and listen to people talk about something you’ve created, and talk to them about it.

I’ll end this rather long and probably not very entertaining post by saying thanks to all of you, you all encouraged me, supported me, congratulated me, forced me to drink champagne, admired my worm in person, put up with my incessant babbling about the whole adventure, and…if you’ve made it this far…have read this! Haha.

As you can gather, you’ll know especially if you were following me through the week, I had an absolutely amazing time at the NEC, and would do it again tomorrow. Although someone else will have to pay for it next time! But what next? You’ll have to wait and see…..

GH

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2 Responses to “Honey….I Shrunk the Shed…and had a great time doing it!”

  1. Charles says:

    We had a great time being there virtually and then coming to see you. You did a fantastic job Simon and we are all looking forward to the next one.

  2. Louie says:

    Brilliant blog Garden Hero and congratulations on getting a silver gilt!

    Did you do anything at Hampton Court? I have just started getting involved with gardening and am looking to learn more by reading blogs and trying new things out.

    I really like the show garden you have done, great idea!

    Thanks

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