NE….C you in June?

So…i’ve been thinking…quite a lot in fact…hmmmm…see there I go again!

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Back in November, the RHS invited me to attend a New Exhibitor Seminar in Malvern, probably to stop me from pestering them at every opportunity; and a very insightful and informative day it was. It consisted of a series of presentations by the RHS Show Teams, Designers and the RHS Judging Panel; covering everything to do with staging an exhibit at one of the RHS Shows.

Now, those unlucky peeps who follow me on Twitter, and have looked at this website know all about my plans for a Chelsea Garden in 2012. Well, after talking with the RHS, and curbing my enthusiastic nature (only slightly) for a moment, I decided I would like to try something this year; just something small. Realistically it’s a more sensible idea, dip my toe in the water as it were. But what to do…..and where to do it?

I remembered the Birmingham Borders at last year’s Gardeners’ World Live at Birmingham NEC. Small but popular plots, 3m x 3m or 6m x 1.5m, and eligible for RHS medals. A great space to start with I thought, but was I too late, and would one of my often insane ideas be received favourably and taken seriously?

Well…my sense of humour, enthusiasm and creativity tend to lead me astray in terms of what can be realistically achieved, so I usually think big, then work backwards to refine an idea. Take the ‘Giant Rotating Pooing Barbie Dog‘ Garden or the ‘It was Landscape Man with a 25 Tonne Digger‘ Cluedo Garden (there were worse titles for that particular one – Toby Buckland and his cucumber was one option!) – only a bit of fun, crudely drawn, and resulting out of jovial conversations; but completely indicative of my thinking and approach. If you haven’t seen them…then here they are for your amusement:

The ‘Giant Rotating Pooing Barbie Dog’ Garden

The ‘It was Landscape viagra pharmacy Man with a 25 Tonne Digger’ Cluedo Garden

Now, as I’ve said; these ‘designs’ are completely daft, with a distinct lack of plants – well, to be honest, when you have a 10 foot tall spinning dog in the garden, what else would you need?!?

Anyway…back to reality for a moment…Birmingham Borders. In all seriousness, I’d always had an urge to create something that was a magnified area of something bigger, but representative of the whole. Plus, i’ve always wanted an excuse to build a giant earthworm! don’t ask me why, perhaps it’s my old fine art background coming through slightly. Plus…it would just be great fun to utilise something like that in a B-Movie style. So that’s where the idea began, and that’s where the title of this particular design originated….‘Honey…I Shrunk the Shed!’

Indulge me for a second if you will…and here’s the story…

As he closed the door behind him, he knew instantly that something was different,
as if the garden he knew had grown massively around him in an instant.
Droplets of rainwater on the paving around him were now puddles,
and the rumbling beneath was followed by an eruption of earth in front of him.
As terror tightened its grip, the realization suddenly dawned upon him.
“HONEY!” he cried. “I SHRUNK THE SHED!”

And the design? Well, the original design started with some scribbling, doodling, scratching of head, red wine…but basically I knew what I wanted to achieve, a corner of a lawn where it meets some paving, blown up to gigantic proportions, held together by a sculptural earthworm. And here is where it started:

Earthworm Doodles

Originally, I wanted a corner of an immaculate, green mowed lawn, very neat but essentially very flat, and would have meant some drastic trimming of some tall grasses to achieve the ‘flat-top’ which didn’t sit well with me. Tall grasses are beautiful plants, and I certainly didn’t want to compromise their natural effect by taking a hedge trimmer to them. So…what I decided to go for was a metaphor of a lawn, made from a variety of grasses, and in keeping with the theme, something of a jungle from the viewpoint of the poor shed-shrinker. The initial layout of the plot was essentially very simple, the corner of lawn, the edge of paving, and a small strip of ‘bare earth’ in between the two, all straight sides, needing to be offset with some softness….so the planting plan began…and the 28th January deadline was looming!

A section of the Planting Plan

Now, I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to designs like this, I like to hand draw everything first, to scale, then scan it in and work over the top in an illustration package such as Illustrator or Freehand. Yep, simple really…but transforming my scribbles of different plants into something relatively realistic was far more time consuming than I first thought! So I hand drew (onscreen) individual plants that I wanted to use, and drop them into place to give the impression I was after. My berating Ophiopogon Planiscapus Nigrescens because it wouldn’t look like how I imagined caused much frustration I can tell you!

Anyway, after staring at a screen for many hours, and almost going blind after drawing millions of lines of grass, here’s what the finished result looked like, with added scared figure; the visual I subsequently sent to the RHS for consideration.

And so the application was sent, just in time! But what would the RHS make of it, and would it be accepted? Would I then have to get everything into motion to finally build my giant earthworm?!


I haven’t found out yet whether it’s happening, but initial feedback was positive…but by no means an indication of whether it will go ahead.

I’m due to hear next week whether i’m successful or not; but in the meantime i’ve been planning just in case…and please forgive me for harping on about ‘my’ design; i’m just really excited at the prospect of getting close to a first time show exhibit, and if it works as I think it will, it should put a smile on someone’s face, which is good enough for me. So i’m keeping my fingers crossed!


Oh…and before I forget…remember this chap?

Well, he’s doing quite well this week!

Ta ta for now!


2 Responses to “NE….C you in June?”

  1. Kate B says:

    How did I manage to miss your ideas surrounding The ‘Giant Rotating Pooing Barbie Dog’ Garden? Fantastic!! Good luck with the RHS, hope to be seeing your giant earthworm garden soon x

  2. I somehow stumbled upon this and I fell in love with the design. Or should I say, designs? They’re all cool, hope you get a chance to do it. This has been a bit of a dream for me for some time, even though I know nothing about garden design. I just think it would be cool to do a garden that’s more than just a “garden.”

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