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Sally Court

Sally Court

  • Date Joined: 30 May 2008

Hampton Court - courtyard garden build soon to start

Posted by Sally Court on 06 Jun 2008 at 04:09 PM

I have a meeting this morning with Les Hewett of The English Garden Company who is my contractor for constructing the show garden for the National Year of Reading.  The two of us have not met for a few weeks, not since before my holiday so it is essential for us to review the build and work out a suitable timetable for each an every component part to arrive on site for the smooth running of the build up which starts in, goodness, one week!  Help this is all too soon.

I am confident that the build will go well.  Les and his teams are old hands at constructing show gardens both at Chelsea and Hampton Court and they are well able to cope with the pressures and foibles of designers, clients and organisers alike.  So I am happy that this side will be in extremely capable hands.  No its not the build that is keeping me awake at night, it's the plants. And the weather, of course.

We came to the garden rather late in the day so although I have a "wish list" of plants that I would like to see in the garden, I am relying on what is available and looking good that the nurseries have in stock over the next three weeks.  This is when I will make my final choices.  Under the right circumstances I would have selected the plants well in advance (preferably a year back) and grown them on for the garden but this year I am just going to my favourite nurseries, those that I have worked with in the past, and will be walking their beds and individually picking those plants that will suit the scheme and look the part.  They will not necessarily be plants that are my first choice or even on the list that I submitted to the RHS with the garden application!  But I do have some really brilliant nurseries that will do their utmost to provide me with fabulous material.

Needless to say I have managed to source and start growing the "specials".  This started back in the chill wet days of early March when I visited the muddy fields of Hilliers in Romsey, Hampshire, and ear-marked, with the help of Tracey Russell, the 7 Liriodendron tulipifera so essential if I am going to weave in a storyline of the Tradescants into the garden.  After quite a lot of internet searching and many emails, I have also booked in the Sarracenia purpurea (another Tradescant introduction) and other carnivorous plants from Mike King owner of the Carnivorous Plants nursery in Shropshire and holder of the NCCPG National Collection of Sarracenias  (pitcher plants) and other grisly flesh eaters.  He has been so helpful with the advice that he has provided about their upkeep.  This is where I really need rainwater if these rather strange and wonderful plants are to succeed....   Charlie and Karl of Premier Plants from Essex have also come up trumps under adverse conditions.   They have just moved their nursery lock, stock and barrel into a larger premises and are having to contend with the upheaval as well as my demands.  This is where my choice tree ferns are coming from as well as many of the other herbaceous plants and ferns.   But many of the precious perennials will picked out from the growing beds of Gould Farm Plants down in Kent, where I will meet with Penny Roberts, the nursery's new owner.   Alex Clarke, a client of mine with terrific green fingers and a superb allotment at the end of her garden, has also risen to the occasion by growing on the beans and peas that are going to be used in the borders to represent "butterflies".  These are well on their way as is the "salad" lawn.  This is a mix of green and red lettuce which is being grown on by Mike Thurlow of Garden Organics, the former HDRA based in Warwickshire.  Apparently growing well and due for its first cropping.  The only headache here is how to transport it to the show.  I need to get hold of a van and a man to bring the 50 s.m. to the show safely.....any one know where to hire Danish trolleys?

Now what have I missed out?   Oh yes, sourcing wheat and oats, the sedum mat, specimen grasses.......where in the British Isles haven't I been yet?


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