The Easter weekend often marks a turning point in the gardeners’ year – the point at which action takes over from planning and longed for transformations in the garden really begin to take shape.
The same is true for professional gardeners and especially those who are designing for shows in the coming season. In the build up to the exciting new RHS Chatsworth Flower Show we will be catching up with our own designers, Fleur Porter and Melinda Thomas of Sanctum Garden Design, as they put months of planning into action to create our very own Agriframes Garden to be unveiled at the show in June.
Fleur and Melinda tell us a little of what's involved...
“Creating a show garden is often the dream of many aspiring garden designers and it is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your creativity and plant knowledge without some of the usual constraints. It also stretches you to think in new ways; nobody wants to see the same old gardens at a show, they want to see something imaginative and creative, and so as a designer you need to be thinking a little more laterally.
The first hurdle we had was finding a theme for the garden which conformed to the overall theme of RHS Chatsworth – design pioneers. We were conscious that we did not want to create homage to the ‘usual suspects’ like Gertrude Jekyll et al. We also wanted to choose something that was a good fit with our sponsors, Agriframes. We did an incredible amount of research into deign pioneers and tubular steel before we found a link that felt right, that we could use to inspire a garden design - only once we felt confident with this could we move onto the design of the garden. We work in a partnership so this involves a lot of discussion and changes (and the occasional sleepless night!) before we come up with something that we are both happy with. We start with the overall layout and use of space and then we move onto the planting. After all this you then have to submit your deign to the RHS selection panel and wait to see if you have been accepted - an anxious wait as - by this point - you have already invested a lot of time and emotion into the design.
Once you have been accepted, the design needs to become a reality – you need a team to build it, source the materials for the garden and source the plants along with finding someone who can look after them and ensure that they are looking their best for the show – a huge skill in itself. The gardens are built in an incredibly short time (about 10 days) and are on show for an even shorter time before they are broken down and the ground is put back to how it was before the show – as if the garden never existed.
Show gardens do have a dream like quality, they are a little unrealistic - who can get all their plants looking so wonderful at once and all the paving and pools looking immaculate in a real garden? But this is part of their charm; they are there for inspiration and escapism. The visitor can take an idea from the garden, be it a plant combination or a water feature, and incorporate it into their own garden. “
We look forward to the story unfolding...