Firstly I am immensely proud to be the designer for The Caravan Club’s first ever show garden. The design pivots around a very lovable character, Doris, a vintage British caravan, who is small enough for this 10m by 10m space. Her presence also means that this is the first time a caravan (and a dog kennel) has featured in a RHS Chelsea show garden.
Timing wise this garden started back in October when I submitted the design and other details to the RHS. Since then a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to make sure that the various elements of the garden, everything from the plants, the trees, benches, water rill, kennel, patchwork hammock and so on, are ready for the moment I go on site, Friday 4 May, just three weeks before Chelsea opens.
This week I’ve been checking on the production of the benches, the water rill and the kennel. Standards are so high and exacting that everything has to be the right size and shape. For instance if there’s a seat to sit on, the judges will expect it be comfortable and of the right height. And, as I’ve said the rill is wide enough to cool feet in, it must accommodate varying foot sizes as there will probably be a judge who will want to try it out!
I’ve seen my trees too, whilst not fully in leaf they look stunning, with their shiny, slightly peachy stems. (See my jobs for the garden below to make the most of pretty stems in the garden). I am using five Chinese birches for structure, Betula albosinensis ‘Fascination’, which is a departure from the multi-stemmed look that other designers go for. These 18 year old trees, like caravans, are also constantly on the move. They are used for show gardens and return back to the nursery for some peace and quiet before being moved again.
Certainly April and May is an exciting time in the garden as everything responds to warmer temperatures and longer days. There is always a never ending list of garden jobs. Here are a few jobs that I recommend you do:
Prune lavender bushes
Wipe down silver birch stems to make the best of their beautiful bark
Plant ornamental grasses
Provide support for young delphinium plants as they grow and divide agapanthus to give you more for your money.
As for my list of jobs, in the coming weeks I will be doing the equivalent of traffic control at Gatwick airport as I schedule plants, people, trees, and other items safely to Chelsea complying with a 160 page manual of advice and protocol.
Do join me in the countdown to Chelsea through other blogs I will post and by visiting the RHS’s gorgeous new Chelsea website with its own countdown calendar. I’ve developed an obsession for checking it every day in the vague hope that it would either go backwards or stop!