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Philippa Pearson

Behind the scenes diary for The Victorian Aviary Garden at Chelsea Flower Show and The Girlguiding UK Centenary Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010

Our 7th year at Chelsea

Posted by Neil Lucas on 10 Apr 2008 at 12:04 PM

This will be our 7th year at Chelsea and, although we have always exhibited in the Grand Pavilion, as we will again this year, for 2008 we thought we might make things even more interesting by jointly undertaking a small garden in conjunction with Paul Hensey of Elysium Design. He takes a modern approach to garden design with a frequent, and imaginative use of grasses that we have long admired.

Of course, Chelsea in May is a very silly time of year for a grass nursery to be showing its wares. It is now well-known that one of the most important contributions grasses can make to any gardens is to extend the season of interest. They do this naturally as the great majority, of deciduous grasses in particular, are at their peak later in the season-long after May has passed. Sillier still then to commit to not one, but two projects at this year's show!

As soon as we are back from our Christmas break we begin preparing all the plants we might need and place them in our 'Chelsea house' ready to begin what is the most intensive, and exciting, four months of a 12 month schedule.

We obviously cannot rely on natural growth so we have to 'force' the plants - in other words convince them that it is rather later in the season than it actually is. And this is where the fun really starts...

Too much forcing and the plants react too quickly and bolt - too little and of course they won't be ready in time. We do not use refrigeration or artificial light, just a selection of glasshouses and tunnels which offer different levels of heat and light depending on the plant's individual needs and of course the vagaries of a season which can vary as much as three weeks from year to year.

How are we faring to date? Well, so far so good...

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