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RHS Flower Shows

Behind the scenes information from our flower shows

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  • It's Show Time!!!

    Posted by Pip Probert on 03 Apr 2015 at 12:25 PM
    It’s that time of the year, yet again… IT’S SHOW TIME!! This year promises to be as exciting and busy as ever. 2015 is the 10th Anniversary of Outer Spaces and we want to mark it in style! Next weekend, we will be packing our tool bags, and making the trip down the to the Three Counties for the first show of the season. The RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival is a wonderful show to be a part of. So early in the season, there are a completely different set of challenges. The first year we went down to Malvern, we ended up with frost damage, and last year we had so much rain it was impossible to move forward at some points during the build. But, this year, we are ready for it… bring on the RAIN, bring on the WIND - WE ARE PREPARED!! ‘Cornerstone’ is a simplistic design, with natural materials and a soft planting palette. I can’t wait to get my hands on those alpines, when we start to construct our 'erratic alpine worktop' (possibly not how I have described it in the client brief - as I am not sure how the judges would interpret that comment!) We will be keeping you up to date via social media and the blog on the trials and tribulations throughout the Malvern Show, so keep looking out for our updates. After Malvern, I jet off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to work as part of the planting team on the L’Occitane Garden. Although I have built my own designs down at Chelsea, it will fantastic working as part of a larger team,on a main avenue garden - can’t wait to smell the fragrances on the garden. Moving on quite quickly up to Edinburgh, where my RBGE Garden Design Diploma students will be building their very first Show Garden. It has been a brilliant project, and the whole team have already made me extremely proud with their organisation of the garden. We are all SO excited to get up there, and show the people of Scotland just what we can do!! With a few things in-between, we will gradually get to the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in July. This is the big one for me, as it is the home show. Ten years ago, me and family rocked up extremely fresh faced in the horticultural world and built our first Back to Back, ‘Simply Stylish’. After winning that Bronze Medal, I have never looked back, and this year we hope to mark the occasion with another medal (although it doesn’t have to be the same colour) ;) If you are visiting any of the shows that we are involved in, PLEASE come and say hello. We always like to meet fellow gardeners, or garden admirers. Have a lovely Easter and hopefully we will see you soon!!


  • Things to Look Forward to in 2015!

    Posted by Pip Probert on 03 Mar 2015 at 07:32 PM
    The spring is on its way and we are all starting to think gardens again - Thank goodness, I am very ready for the warm weather to arrive!! We have a busy year ahead with gardens to build at RHS Malvern and RHS Tatton Park where we will be celebrating 10 years of Outer Spaces Garden Design!! I will also be up in Edinburgh with my Garden Design Diploma students from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh whilst they build their very first Show Garden at Gardening Scotland 2015. This will be a great adventure for the both myself and the students and we will be keeping you all updated throughout the build. Today they received the Artisan Award which means they get some money to put towards the project, which is fantastic as they had to compete with all the other garden exhibitors. Next step, gold hopefully! These are just a few of the highlights that we be working on in 2015, so for more information… KEEP WATCHING!!


  • Tatton Park Flower Show - Gold Medal!

    Posted by Pip Probert on 03 Aug 2014 at 01:12 PM
    When I last wrote, we were all very excited and raring to go for the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show 2014. In what seems to be no time at all, the show has been and gone along with our beautiful garden ‘The Narrows’. Like a proud parent, I am very happy to announce that we won a GOLD MEDAL at the show!!! Things started off very well with glorious weather that lasted throughout (apart from one welcome, wet, rainy day). Sunshine makes a huge difference to the build process, allowing us to move quickly and materials can be left to go off naturally without being effected by the wet. We started with our pond, deck and raised planter that seemed to fly in rather quickly. This was then followed by the patio area and the home made wooden bench. Within 3 days the majority of the hard landscaping was in!! The fence, which was really our main constructed feature along with the twisted pergola took a little longer to complete. The entire garden was constructed out of Oak, which is a beautiful hard wood that gives a fabulous finish, but it did cause a few problems along the way. After all the posts had been routed, a few broken blades and a very soar shoulder later, (sorry dad!) we got them in the ground. Taking many hands to hold the rails as the fence was erected, this was the most time consuming part of our build – but definitely worth it as it created such a dramatic statement within the finished garden. Once the construction was complete it was up to me to fill the garden with plants, which is the part of the build I love the most. Although the pressure is generally on at this stage, I thrive from the scheme growing and expanding and also the reactions from on looking exhibitors as they take a well-deserved break from their own plots! Listening to comments and gauging whether people agree or disagree with your combinations helps future decisions to be made. I love to use unusual colour schemes in a garden, something that is a little different, or maybe a ‘typical’ combination, but with a twist. This scheme was something I felt would entice the people to look at the garden from the start. It also worked well against the Oak back drop. Reds, oranges and blues are all bold colours and the highlighted hints of yellow freshened the palette. On the morning of judging Toby Buckland and the BBC team, who were ready to start filming, greeted us on the garden! In a state of panic I started to unwrap my furniture and the props we use to make the garden feel lived in. The kind words given by he BBC team, and Toby’s very kind offer of carrying the furniture onto the garden seemed to do the trick. Snapping out of the panic and getting the garden finished ready for filming and judging! A very long, hot day followed as the other designers/landscapers and I wondered round aimlessly, and tried to prepare our stands for the public who would descend the next day. Once the Medals had been awarded, it was time to relax and enjoy the show. Our GOLD MEDAL was totally unexpected and so VERY appreciated, there had to be a little celebrating (of course!!!) The show week was brilliant, the weather held out, the public were fantastic and I gave daily talks in the RHS Grow Talks Theatre. This allowed me to talk to many people about how they could improve their gardens and solve some of the problems they have. Overall the show was a massive success for the Outer Spaces team and now we are back on the Wirral working on various projects. Not only am I working on gardens, designs, exciting school garden projects but I have flowers to create for a large wedding at Ness Botanic Gardens next week. Also my students are starting their 2nd year on the Garden Design Diploma at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the next few weeks, so we have to get prepared for the new Gardening Scotland project!! It was great to be able to show some of my students the Tatton Park garden and allow them to see the behind the scenes. (Thanks to those that came down from Scotland – not a short trip!) I better go and get on with it!


  • 'The Narrows' Show Garden - RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

    Posted by Pip Probert on 02 Jul 2014 at 08:21 PM
    So far the summer has been very busy thanks to the beautiful weather we have been having (on and off!). So busy in fact that time has flown by and the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show is upon us! My team and I are so excited to get to site and start building our garden. The 2014 Hi-Vis jackets are ready and waiting and passes are stuck onto the vehicles. We are raring to go!! We decided that many of our clients have gardens that are awkward shapes and sizes. Plus they are often the same as all the other gardens in the road, until they have been landscaped. This garden was designed as an example of an average suburban garden. Sometimes they have an unusual shape and are often narrow. Here the plot has been divided into three main spaces. ‘The Narrows’ is suitable for a family allowing them to sit and dine together or each enjoy their own space. Making good use of a long thin plot! The first is calming as the occupant leaves the house, forgetting their problems as the walk over the deck that edges the shallow pond. As they are guided round the area there are numerous flowering combinations to see, including those planted within the wall units. As you enter the next room, a stainless steel sculptural feature greets you. There is a partition fence that pierces the planted border and provides seclusion for the sleeper bench. The lawn is a sufficient size for various activities such as a child’s play area but certainly doesn’t dominate the garden. The third area is totally enclosed by a horizontally slatted fence, and has a matching sculptural feature within the fencing. You enter the space via a ‘twisted’ pergola. This part of the garden is for dining and entertaining with a paved surface and a low raised planter. Climbing plants soften one of the boundaries with planted borders on the other two. “The Narrows” is in the Escape Zone at Tatton Park, plot no ES/191. Come along and say hello!!


  • Blush Garden Build - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Posted by Pip Probert on 21 May 2014 at 08:44 PM
    Well a lot has happened since my last blog. We have been to Malvern, built our garden and returned home with a Silver Gilt Medal!! The show was fantastic… We were living on the site for the duration of the build up, show and breakdown period, which allowed us to really feel a part of RHS community that evolves over the month. The show ground has the most amazing backdrop and to be living at the foot of the Malvern Hills for 4 weeks with the iconic view behind us was truly inspiring! We had lovely neighbours, made lots of new friends and met up with all the old friends, and most importantly our garden was well received by the visitors to the show. Although we had a great time down in Malvern and definitely look back on it with fond memories, we certainly had a tough build! The word ‘jinxed’ springs to mind, in that everything we touched seemed to go wrong. Virtually everything that had been ordered (WELL in advance) and delivered seemed to be broken in delivery meaning that there was a lot of extra work required to put things right! After a 3 week build and working extremely hard to get the garden finished on time, the judging process actually felt like a release. Although not at the time, as that is the point where it becomes to late to change anything (and generally the tears start to trickle!) The judges came round and spent lots of time assessing the garden and discussing the pro’s and con’s, then the nail biting period begins as we await our results. Over night I had convinced myself that we wouldn’t be receiving a medal (– tiredness can be cruel!) But, in the morning we woke up early and walked up to the garden to prepare for the visitors, and there on the table was the medal. Running onto the garden to find a lovely big, shiny Silver Gilt Medal drove me to tears yet again! We had worked hard on this garden and all the struggling and problems we had solved to get to this point made the long hours worth it. From this point in, we could totally enjoy the show, and we definitely did! I got to meet the lovely James Martin and guide him round my garden, Joe Swift came for our regular show chat and also Carole Klein came over for photos on the garden. Overall the whole process was a big success and we had built a garden that we were proud of. Once the soul-destroying task of breaking the garden down was complete, we drove home talking about the last 4 weeks we had spent in Malvern and also planning the next one! After coming home and getting back into the real world, we immediately started working on a private garden. We have a few projects to get on with now and then we will start the whole process again but this time at Tatton Park, our home show. Can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into that! Stay tuned for a picture of the Tatton Park garden.


  • Blush Garden - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Posted by Pip Probert on 04 Apr 2014 at 09:41 AM
    I haven’t written anything for a while, as with most people, life takes over and then a month has passed us by! We have had a really busy couple of months with lots of private gardens, planting schemes and also continued work for public areas at one of the local universities. Plus, my students at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have been keeping me on my toes with their projects and course work. With all that going on it is hard to believe that it is time for us to pack our bags ready for the first show of the year, RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival, at the Three Counties Showground. Everything is booked, order and waiting to be delivered. Various parts of the garden have been built back home ready to make the journey south. Our garden is called ‘Blush’ and is designed as an urban retreat, somewhere to sit and relax to escape the stress of everyday life. The colour scheme of browns, pinks and purples are attractive and soothing. As you enter the plot via stepping-stones over a pond, you are greeted by planting on either side. The path leads you into the centre of the space, which is a seating area enclosed by rendered walls at three different heights. Coloured glass panels are set into the wall adding artistic flare. In the seating area there is a feature wall consisting of living wall planters and also a central water wall. The water runs down the wall and through the centre of a decorative table, it then disappears into the paving to reappear in the shallow pond at the entrance to the garden. A sculptural piece forming a ‘ball’ shape is located at the front of the garden set within the planting. This shape is then echoed throughout the space with box balls. We start building on the 14th April and look forward to spending a month in Malvern creating the Blush garden; hopefully we will see you there 8-11th May 2014. We still have a project to complete before we go to Malvern, for Barnstondale Activity Centre on the Wirral where we are creating a children’s garden and nature trail, which will be constructed in phases and have all manor of exciting features. Best get a move on!!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - July

    Posted by Pip Probert on 10 Aug 2013 at 07:28 PM
    Another late blog I'm afraid, but this time of year is really busy for us! July started with our private jobs being wrapped up, and then we were off to RHS Tatton Park! This was going to be the last show garden we built in 2013 in association with Digby Stone. So although I was really excited, I was hoping the time wouldn't go too quickly! After measuring up the site, it was time to drive down to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show for a sneak preview of the competition down South. It was a glorious day, and I left feeling really excited about the garden we were beginning to construct back home. At Tatton, the sun was shining and everything was going great! The pond had been dug and the Splash Pool quickly formed. The design was fairly simple to construct but the planting took quite a while to complete as it was very detailed. Overall we finished with time to tweak, clean the paving and do all the extra jobs that sometimes get forgotten. On the morning of judging the sun was shining and everyone was very nervous, although I think I made the 'first timers' worse (for which I am truly sorry!) I just get so nervous when we are judged, it seems to rub off on everyone else. The BBC soon took my mind off things, for as soon as the judges were off the garden, the BBC started to film! Overall the show was a huge success and our Silver Gilt Medal winning garden was extremely popular with the public. The sun shone throughout the whole of the show, apart from the 1 hour 'Sell Off' period. Thunder and lighting may have cleared the sky, but it also cleared the show ground. Suddenly it was time to break the garden down and re-enter the real world! Sad it is all over now, but I am excited about the possibilities that next year will bring. Now we are back working on a full range of designs, planting plans and builds. Also there is only a few weeks left until the NEW Garden Design Diploma starts at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. I have already been up there for some final preparations and the students are really looking forward to starting the course. So keep watching for more info!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - May/June 2013

    Posted by Pip Probert on 22 Jun 2013 at 05:36 PM
    Well as usual I haven't had time to write as regularly as I had hoped! If you have been visiting the various shows you will realise why. Since coming home from Malvern and fitting in all of our private clients, there was simply no time to stop and reflect on the 'Solar Chic' Show Garden! We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the RHS Malvern Spring Flower Show and hope to be going back there next year. Things very quickly progressed onto the next few projects, and somewhere in-between I had chance to visit the Chelsea Flower Show. I go every year to Chelsea either to work or simply enjoy the gardens, and this year the atmosphere was fantastic! 2013 brought the 100th Anniversary of Chelsea Flower Show and all the exhibitors were at their best. Sadly there wasn't much time for me to fully absorb the Chelsea Experience as I had to rush home and carry on with my own projects. The month began with a trip up the the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. We are really working hard in getting everything ready for the New Garden Design Diploma which is due to start in September. I am so excited about the course, and every time I visit the gardens I am inspired by the wonderful surroundings. This is something I know the students on the Diploma Course will benefit from and hopefully give them endless inspiration for their assignments. Whilst up in Edinburgh I also visited Gardening Scotland, which was nice for me look round a show I have not been involved in. It allows you to look at the exhibits properly and take everything in, rather than a 'fly be' look at the gardens and the occasional 'pit stop' in the floral marque to bag a few bargains! (I shouldn't tell porky's on the internet, as I may get found out. So... I should probably admit that they are NOT ''occasional pit stops'' to buy plants, but numerous visits to the growers area!) Anyway, I think that when we take the students to Gardening Scotland at the end of the course, we will be able to showcase some great design ideas!! Straight from Edinburgh down to Birmingham where we built a 9x9m Show Garden at the NEC, Gardener'sWorld Live 2013. What glorious weather!! We built the garden in the most amazing conditions, lots of glorious sun. We had a couple of timing issues during the build, and ended up a little close to the wire in terms of time, (but that comes with working away from home). It doesn't help that these show gardens tend to swallow plants, and leave us always needing 'just a few more!' Although the last few days resulted in me surviving on roughly 4hrs sleep… we got to the finish line, on time! The garden looked fantastic and the visitor feedback was amazing. Our Silver Medal was well deserved and the show visitors really appreciated the garden, finding it easy to picture it in their own space at home. I have to say a huge thank you to Digby Stone for sponsoring the garden and their beautiful Sandblasted Sandstone Paving which was so popular. You have been perfect customers through out. Also Brentwood Moss Nursery for putting up with my plant demands, Gaze Burvill for their gorgeous pots and furniture and also Gardeners World Building Supplies who provided all the materials that you don't see but can't build the garden without! This week we have knocked down the garden at Gardeners World Live and re-entered the real world! Back to work on my private projects, with lots of designs, planting plans and a whole garden construction to try and finish before we have to leave for Tatton Park! I have visited the nursery this morning to discuss all the plants we need and make sure we are on track for July. Plus, this afternoon brought on a trip to Arley Hall Garden Fair where I picked up a few bargains, and ended up extending my Tatton Park plant list… because I just can't resist a new variety! Summer is when us horticulturists don't stop, making the most of the season and trying to visit all the different gardens, shows and still keep on top of our own plot! Try and come to RHS Tatton Park Flower Show as it will be the last one we will be constructing a garden at this season, and it always worth the trip!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - April/May 2013

    Posted by Pip Probert on 15 May 2013 at 02:03 PM
    As usual I promised to blog throughout the build and something happens that stops me from being able to post anything. Sadly down here in Malvern, I don't have an internet signal where I am staying and limited signal on the Showground. So I haven't been able to keep you up to date with what's been going on. The month started in quite a frantic rush, ensuring we had finished as much of the work we had on before leaving for Malvern. Plus I needed to leave the men set up and ready to continue on various jobs whilst I was away. I started the month with a few days up in Edinburgh at the Royal Botanic Gardens continuing to work on the New Garden Design Diploma. Whilst I was there we also had an open evening to introduce all the Diplomas, Short Curses and RHS courses that RBGE run. It was a an insight into what the students were looking for and I met a few of the potential students before the course starts in September! Things are moving quickly now as we finalise the information and scheduling side of things! Then it was straight down to RHS Malvern Flower Show to start building the Solar Chic Garden with Digby Stone. I can honestly say that this was the smoothest build we have ever had! There were no major concerns or traumas throughout the whole process... Well, until the wind arrived last week. It's been a great show and a really friendly environment as the family joined me on site at the Three Counties Showground. Even Frank the dog was able to accompany us during the build, and he thoroughly enjoyed coming to work every day. In fact he looked a bit miserable having to stay at home whilst the show was on. From start to finish we have really enjoyed our time at the Malvern show, and worked hard to get our Silver Medal!! The public seem to love the garden and everything about it from the beautiful Solar Granite Paving from Digby Stone, the Art Panels made by Susan Bradley, the Gaze Burvill Furniture and the Photinia Parasol Trees supplied by Brentwood Moss Nursery. So all in all, the show has been a massive success! I can't really believe how the time has flown since my last monthly update, and I have another very busy month coming up!


  • RHS Malvern Flower Show - Solar Chic; Update 2

    Posted by Pip Probert on 28 Apr 2013 at 09:06 AM
    This past week has seen glorious sun, viscous wind, rain and hail stones. So just the typical Showground weather, that us designers come to expect! We started on Monday morning full of enthusiasm and raring to go. Malvern is slightly different to the other shows as it has a long build up compared to some of the others and so I have been worried about getting to relaxed with timing. I designed this garden so that there would not be too much hard landscaping to do on site, and I could concentrate on the planting. (This is partly due to my selfish love of planting, so that there is lots for me to do! And, the fact that we are away from home, things needed to be kept simple.). So, this week has been about taking our time in preparing all the paved areas, building the raised planter and levelling the plot. The ivy panel hedges took a while to put up with harsh winds making life quite difficult. The panels blew over in the night at the beginning of the week, which prompted more supports and hidden ties. Malvern has a beautiful show ground and we have all really enjoyed the show so far. Monday brings the Digby Stone paving, which will be laid on prepared beds, which will be an exciting day as it will be the first finished material to go down. Then the plants will start trickling in Monday onwards, which I REALLY can't wait for!! Keep watching for more posts on our Malvern Show Garden!