Crocus Posts

Cleve throws Alan Titchmarsh off the garden!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011No Comments

We had a bit of fun on the Telegraph garden yesterday. Cleve has been doing these great video clips with James Alexander-Sinclair and Joe Swift, called ’3 men went to mow’. Their latest clip is here.

Alan and Cleve hatched this plan where Alan would beg Cleve to be able to join the ’3 men went to mow’ team. But Cleve pretended that he was having none of it so I had to play the role of security guard and throw Alan off the garden. We did the filming when the show was open to the public and they got very confused!

Daily Telegraph wins Best in Show

Tuesday, May 24th, 20113 Comments

At 8.00am this morning we heard that Cleve West had won the Best in Show award at the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s a fantastic achievement and well deserved. It’s a very popular decision and there were a lot of smiling faces everywhere. We were feeling very happy because that means we have won the Best in Show award for the last four years! Cleve was presented with the award by Elizabeth Banks, the President of the RHS.

The wind causes some problems

Sunday, May 22nd, 20112 Comments

We had 45 mile an hour winds at the show ground today. Plants were being blown over, branches fell off trees and dust and pollen turned our eyes red. But even the wind didn’t hide our happiness that the garden was finished and looking magnificent. Some of the other gardens (no names) were certainly not finished but they should be by tonight.

The first phase of judging starts

Sunday, May 22nd, 20111 Comment

The judging is split into three sections. First, the assessors come round. There tends to be three of them and they assess the garden on various levels. The most important aspect for them is to assess how the garden has turned out versus the description that the designer gave at the start of the process. That happened today. Tomorrow, all the judges come round and agree or disagree with the assessors’ views of the award that the garden should get. And finally, tomorrow afternoon, all the judges get together to discuss whether any of their decisions should be altered – this is called Moderation. It’s a long process but it seems to work well.  

My colleague Peter Clay came to the Show today and took lots of photos so I have uploaded his today.

What the bookies are saying…

Saturday, May 21st, 2011No Comments

I went on to the William Hill website this evening and these were the odds they were giving on the gardens for the coveted Best in Show award. I would be really interested to hear what you think so please post a comment and let me know your views.

The Bookies favourite – The Daily Telegraph. Designer: Cleve West. Contractor: Crocus.

Odds 2-1. I am biased, so no comment.

2nd. Tourism Malaysia Garden. Designer: James Wong. Contractor: The Outdoor Company.

Odds 5-1. James is a very good designer but I am surprised that this is second favourite because they are badly behind schedule. When I left this evening, they still had a lot of work to do.

3rd=. The Times Eureka Garden, in association with Kew. Designer: Marcus Barnett. Contractor: The Outdoor Company.

Odds 6-1. I wouldn’t have put this as 3rd favourite but who knows. The planting looked quite crammed in. I’m also quite amused to see so many pine trees at Chelsea this year when Andy Sturgeon used them last year and won Best in Show. They still have quite a lot of work to do to finish.

3rd= The M&G Garden. Designer: Bunny Guiness. Contractor: Gaskin Landscaping.

Odds 6-1. Tim Richardson describes Bunny Guiness in the Telegraph today as the Delia Smith of gardening. M&G are the main sponsors of the Chelsea Flower Show this year so the pressure is on.

5th. The Laurent-Perrier Garden. Designer: Luciano Giubbilei. Contractor: Crocus.

Odds 8-1. Again, I am biased but I am surprised that this is not higher up the listing. Might be worth a punt. Tipped as the hot favourite by the Telegraph today.

6th. RBC New Wild Garden. Designer: Nigel Dunnett. Contractor: Landform Consultants.

Odds 10-1. I like this garden. It’s been well put together and you can see that a lot of thought has gone into it. I think it will do well.

7th= Irish Sky Garden. Designer: Diarmund Gavin. Contractor: Diarmund Gavin Designs.

Odds 12-1. The Health & Safety Executive have probably stopped people being able to go into this garden. There is a mammoth crane at the back which is there to lift up a section of the garden to ‘float’ above it and the idea was that people could go into the ‘pod’. Described by Tim Richardson as ‘out there – conceptual’.  Nice idea but the RHS judges are quite a conservative lot. At 12-1, could be worth a few quid. He has got some really lovely plants in his garden – taxus, buxus etc.

7th= A Beautiful Paradise (Making memories with a green poem). Designer: Kazuyuki Ishihara. Contractor: Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory.

Odds 12-1. There have been so many people working on this garden so for sheer effort, they deserve a prize. The plot they have got makes it difficult to get a true sense of space and I personally struggle to understand all the symbolism of this type of garden but that is mainly due to my ignorance.

9th= The Australian Garden presented by the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Designer: Jim Fogerty. Contractor: Landform Consultants.

Odds 14-1. Great bunch of guys who have worked seriously hard to complete the garden. I have met some of the people from the Melbourne Botanical Garden and they are a really charming bunch. Their garden is next to the Laurent-Perrier garden and we have got on very well. Interesting selection of plants. Must be difficult to co-ordinate building a garden at Chelsea all the way from Melbourne.

9th= Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Fleming’s Nurseries. Designer: Ian Barker. Contractor: Apex Landscapes.

Odds 14-1. Flemings have a strong tradition of building fun gardens at Chelsea – lots of timber decking, BBQs, plunge pools – in essence, typical Australian outdoors life. And it brings an interesting angle to the Show. This year, they have moved away from this and personally, this garden doesn’t cut the mustard for me. (Wes Fleming once came up to me and told me how to plant a tree, saying that I was doing it all wrong but I assure that you that his comments have not affected my opinion……)

9th = A Monaco Garden. Designer: Sarah Eberle. Contractor: Peter Dowle Plants & Gardens

Odds 14-1. Described by the Telegraph as an exercise in chic modernism, I would like to see this garden when it is completed. There is a large swimming pool at the front so I hate to think what the budget was, but it could catch the Judges’ eye. Note the use of pine trees – again.

13th= British Heart Foundation. Designer: Ann-Marie Powell. Contractor: The Garden Builders

Odds 16-1. The garden gets the message across pretty clearly.

13th= The Cancer Research UK Garden. Designer: Robert Myers. Contractor: Willerby Landscapes Ltd

Odds 16-1. This is harsh, in my opinion. Robert is a well respected designer and the contractors have done their job well. The quality of the stone pebble work is top top quality. Robert has won lots of Gold Medals at Chelsea before so is a contender.

15th The Homebase Cornish Memories Garden. Designer: Thomas Hoblyn. Contractor: Bowles & Wyer Contracts

Odds 20-1. I don’t know much about betting but 20-1 seems excessive. Thomas has won medals at Chelsea before and he has a good contractor. I think he has a difficult location at the show ground but he is not such an outsider as the odds imply.

16th= The B&Q Garden. Designer: Laurie Chetwood & Patrcik Collins. Contractor: Willerby Landscapes Ltd

Odds 25-1. The B&Q garden has an extremely difficult plot to work with. It can be seen from virtually all sides so it’s difficult to get an atmosphere into the garden. Having said that, the vertical wall is great (although we have seen that a fair bit recently) and the trees are magnificent. The planting was still not finished by the time I left this evening so i would like to review this one again tomorrow.

16th= The HESCO Garden. Designer: Leeds City Council. Contractor: Leeds City Council

Odds 25-1. I really like the workmanship that has gone into this garden. If I am being harsh, I much preferred the wonderful lock gates that Leeds City Council built last year at Chelsea. For me, this garden doesn’t have the same pull but it is still very nicely built (by Mike and his team who have been at Chelsea for years).

Cleve is looking for things to do….

Saturday, May 21st, 2011No Comments

We are all complete on the Telegraph garden and Cleve, who has been described by Tim Richardson as the Heston Blumenthal of gardening, was wandering around today looking for things to do – which is exactly how we like it! The garden looks magnificent and the whole team have done a truly fantastic job of getting it all complete so early. I am going to have to learn how to use photoshop so that I can add the missing people into the team photo but until then David Wilson, who did all the stone work, needs to return from Scotland if he wants to be in, as does Bamber Wallis who did the water system and spouts. A truly great garden.

All finished on the Laurent-Perrier garden

Saturday, May 21st, 20111 Comment

The last finishing touches were put to the Laurent-Perrier garden today and it was a fantastic atmosphere as everyone got together for a ‘team’ photo. Sadly there were quite a few people missing (Andrew Ewing and his team, for example) but it was a happy band of players that stood proudly in front of the garden. There is a lot of time spent getting all the finishing details exactly right but it is worth it in the end. We felt that we deserved a good breakfast to keep us going.

Just one more day of planting…

Thursday, May 19th, 2011No Comments

Cleve thinks he will be finished planting tomorrow evening which is great news. We started cleaning up this afternoon because the BBC will start coming round later tomorrow and it’s important that the garden is as complete as possible. The planting has been carried out by  Chris, Toby and Rosanna and looks magnificent.

The Laurent-Perrier garden looks wonderful in the evening light

Thursday, May 19th, 2011No Comments

The Laurent-Perrier garden is nearly finished and is looking wonderful in the evening light. The Randall-Page boulders and the Kengo Kuma pavilion look magnificent against the hornbeam hedge. David Hesketh, the Managing Director of Laurent-Perrier, came down to help us with the planting.  Laurent-Perrier have been great supporters of the Chelsea Flower Show over many years and it’s very kind of David to lend a hand.

What goes on behind the gardens

Thursday, May 19th, 2011No Comments

Behind each show garden is a collection of old sheds and huts where we all have tea. It’s always quite untidy but some of the most important elements are as follows:

1. the kettle

2. the fridge

3. the programme of works

4. the cake made by Gary’s Mum

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