Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Watch this space

A couple of weeks ago Sue and I went to Malvern for a meeting and to see where our garden will be on the site.  It was a cloudy, windy day but the Malverns looked stunning, a great backdrop to the show.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Craftsmanship is alive and well.

You meet such lovely people when building a show garden, yesterday I spent the morning in the Wyre Forest talking to a talented craftsman called Paul Jackson.  He is making two rustic oak chairs for my garden so I went along to see how they are made.  It was such a beautiful spring day and the drive there took me through the gentle Worcestershire and Shropshire countryside.  His wood yard is on the edge of the forest, it's very peaceful, just bird song and wind in the trees.  This is one of the chairs, it's called a story teller chair and is hand made from oak.

Last week I visited another talented craftsman, this time one who works in metal.  He has made the arch for my garden and I have designed the garden for his tradestand at the show.  His name is Phil Gilman and I have worked with him before, he made a stunning spider wishing well for my very first show garden.  This now has pride of place in a school.  He also made the arum lily fountain for my second garden.  I liked it so much that I bought it for myself.  It is much admired by visitors to my house.

Both these men put so much care and attention into their creations and really love their work. Phil works in an old workshop, it's noisy, dirty and full of pieces of iron, metal leaves and flowers, but what he produces is exquisite.  Paul also works from a large shed scattered with lengths of oak and chestnut and bark peelings.  Isn't it good to know that in the 21st centuary these crafts are alive and well.  Please come and see their work at the show, the chairs will be in my garden and Phil has a tradestand near the Chris Beardshaw mentoring show gardens.  Look at their work on the websites, if they are to survive in this era they need your support.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beginning of an idea, how I got the show garden bug.

Last May I had a wonderful idea, why not build a show garden at Malvern.  I had built two previous gardens at the show and enjoyed the whole process immensley.  This year I wanted to do something different, grow as many plants as possible and build the garden for under £1,000.  All I needed was some innocent soul to work with me, preferably one with a large amount of indoor space to keep the plants.
After many glasses of white wine I persuaded my friend Sue that this could be her moment of fame, foolishly she agreed.  Not only did she have a large greenhouse but a large polytunnel as well.

She runs a cattery called The Owl and the Pussycats, so there was the idea for our garden.  We soon sketched out ideas on scraps of paper and I went away to draw up a scale plan.  In order to have time to grow our own plants we knew we had to start before we submitted ourplans to the RHS and Malvern.  So armed with seed trays, compost and boundless enthusiasm we sowed, foxgloves and honesty seeds, split up large clumps of iris and various grasses, potted on self sown aquilegia and sisyrinchium, dug up ferns and cow parsley from our gardens and held plant swaps with our friends, families and neighbours.

Our design was, thankfully accepted and we have spent the winter cosseting the plants through severe frost, snow and hail. 

We also decided to make our own willow fencing, having never done this before we went for the  free form design!  Well no one can tell us it's wrong, it's just art darling.  We just had to make a living willow boat as well, hope it actually grows before May.

Let's hope we have some warmer weather soon, some of our plants are starting to flower, others are still sulking and we are getting through a lot of wine.  Look out for the next exciting episode, when we build a mock up of the garden.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The end is in sight

Hi everyone, I am building one of the show gardens at the Spring Show, it's called The Owl and the Pussycat. I started work on it just over a year ago as I decided to grow most of my own plants! It seemed quite easy then, just a few packets of seed, split up some large clumps of perennials and beg borrow or possible steal plants from friends and family.

If only it was that easy. All 300 foxglove seeds germinated, the plants in the greenhouse and poly tunnel were nibbled by mice and we have had weeks of sub zero temperatures. I've spent a fortune in parrafin for the greenhouse heaters and have sleepless nights worrying about whether we will have flowers for the show. If not we have a lovely garden in shades of green.

I have been keeping a diary that I am going to make into a book for the show. I will put some of the pages on the blog.

Please come and visit the garden, I'll probably be a nervous wreck by then, look out for the mad woman with a wine bottle in her hand babbling on about potting up foxgloves.