One Man Went to Show

So what’s happened since I last posted? Well, you may notice there’s a little countdown timer on this site now, so you should be able to deduce that my Birmingham Border design was accepted by the RHS, which has made me a very happy person indeed!

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Honey...I Shrunk the Shed!

It was a tense, nailbiting time waiting for the confirmation; the RHS Show Team teasing me with their cryptic tweets, but giving nothing away; and I was itching to get started on the planning, sourcing and preparation, but hey, there was plenty of time left before June….

And now I glance at the countdown timer….last time I looked there were over a hundred days to go before the build, and now….PANIC STATIONS!

“I can only imagine how designers of higher profile show gardens must feel! I salute you all!”

Well, not quite, but the days are going fast, and the planning is well underway, and I thought you might like to see what i’ve been up to over the past 6 weeks…

Firstly, I would like to tell you what an experience this has been so far; i’ve been veering between excitement and panic constantly since it began; so I can only imagine how designers of higher profile show gardens must feel! I salute you all! Fitting everything around my full time job has been a slight challenge, but I have enjoyed every single moment of it so far, and the more it comes together, the more excited I feel about the whole experience. June will be here before I know it; and nothing will stop me now!!

So where to start? Well…what’s in the design, and what did I have to consider? Budget for one thing!

As you can see, I decided it would be rather nice to plonk a massive earthworm in the middle of this, but where to find one? I’m financing this myself, so my budget is VERY limited, and I wasn’t going to be able to stretch to having a worm fabricated out of corten steel as i’d have loved to! (although I did get a price for this….earmarked for the future) I need something as a ‘core’ for the earthworm, something flexible I could build over, so I eventually settled on two things; some flexible ducting with some natural fibre rope wrapped around it.

The smallest part of the worm!

The flexible ducting is amazing stuff, and as you can see from the pic is certainly worm-like in its texture already, so this was a step in the right direction. And yes, that is part of a full-size planting plan it’s sat upon! In terms of scale, this pic shows the smallest piece of the worm, and is about 1 metre long. The largest piece is about 4 metres in length, so there’s fun times ahead!

Worm base…sorted.

Now on to the rope….hmmmm…how much would I need? Well, not too much I would have thought! But let’s do this properly – ducting has a diameter of 200mm, therefore a circumference of  around 630mm. Rope 100mm diameter, total length of worm pieces approx 7 metres….so that’s 700 revolutions of rope, at 0.63m per revolution – total length of rope required…..441 metres!!

So….I bought some rope! Quite a lot of it in fact! First of all though, I wanted to see how difficult it would be to dye it a worm colour; so I tried a few pieces in the washing machine with some fabric dye….hmmmm……

Pink foam in the washing machine!

The actual dyeing experiment was a partial success (in terms of colouring the rope quite nicely), but the washing machine didn’t agree, and decided to unwind the pieces of rope into a mess of coir fibres, which took me forever to remove from the bloody thing. Undaunted, I changed tactics. With 500 metres of rope waiting to be dyed, I invested in some cold water dye and a dustbin…and hey presto, it worked!

Different shades of worm coloured rope

Next step…wind the rope around the ducting! That’s this weekend’s task :)

Now, I hadn’t forgotten about the most important part of the design, the plants themselves. I took a trip to visit the incredibly helpful and knowledgable Mark Straver at Crocus, who managed to find time in his busy schedule to show me round the nurseries there, and discuss what I needed. Unfortunately for me, at this time of year, the majority of nursery space is devoted to ensuring the Chelsea plants are looked after, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to leave any plants I required in the capable hands of Crocus to get into tip-top condition; I would have to keep a close eye on them myself…more of that later…

While looking around, I did get to see Cleve West’s and Luciano Giubbilei’s Chelsea plants all coming along nicely (2 gardens i’m looking forward to seeing this year) and Mark and I had a brief discussion about how naughty Ann-Marie Powell is (I can’t for the life of me remember how that conversation started! – but Ann-Marie’s 2011 Chelsea garden is another I can’t wait to see) and off I went back home, feeling greatly encouraged by the visit, and Mark’s generous advice.

The majority of plants ended up being bought from Crocus, items that they didn’t have I managed to source online, and arranged for all the plants to be delivered to my incredibly SMALL back yard in Saltaire for looking after. Now we come to the fun part…

Suffice to say I don’t live in the largest of houses, and the outside space is pretty limited…but that wasn’t going to put me off!

Ooh look…some plants have arrived!

Ooh look…here’s some more!

And here’s some in my front room!

And here’s some unpacked in the back yard

So I had all my plants. Brilliant! But realistically, I didn’t have enough room to keep them there until June, as much as I wanted to; so I decided to seek help from my RHS tutor and his friend, who have a rather large (almost empty) greenhouse not too far away which would offer the kind of environment I needed for some of the grasses to get up to speed for showing at the NEC. Plenty of light, plenty of warmth, someone to keep an eye on them and water/feed them, and a Peacock and a Goat.

A Peacock and a Goat?!

Jamie the Peacock!

Alf the Evil Goat!

So that’s about all the news up to now. Some of the plants are happily settled in their new home, being watched over by Jamie and Alf, while the rest are in my back yard, being tended to on a daily basis.

As my excitement builds, it seems that there are others who are quite looking forward to seeing this happen too…I just hope it works as I envisage it to!

I’m hoping to get round to finishing some worm pieces this coming weekend, so if i do…you’ll know about it!

And just in case you want to see some viagra for sale cheap incredibly unexciting video clips of me wittering on about plants, and a guest appearance from Jamie the Peacock, then here you are:




One Response to “One Man Went to Show”

  1. a big congrats – how fabby

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