Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Klein and James Wong take an exclusive peek at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show 2012 in this preview of the event.
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Over the last month the grounds of the Royal Hospital here in London
have been turned upside down by the global gardening elite.
Diggers and riggers with spades and blades have spent hours building
elaborate towers and planting exquisite flowers to transform the
Chelsea pensioners' back garden into the most celebrated
horticultural catwalk on the planet. There are only a few hours to go
before an eager world gets a first glimpse of this year's floral feast.
But stay with us for the next hour because we've got an exclusive
preview of Chelsea 2012 just for you.
Get fresh - we'll be revealing the new garden category that's set to
cause controversy. Joe in for gold - Mr Swift unveils
his very first Chelsea show garden. What do you think honestly?
Honestly? I've got to be honest, really. I think it's absolutely
brilliant. I am ever so proud of you.
And south-west exotics - we meet Chelsea first timers Trewidden
Nursery to find out why Cornwall is the new South Africa.
Welcome to the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show
supported by M&G Investments. For just six precious petal-filled days
central London is besieged by over 150,000 people, all of them
desperate to see the ambitious exhibits designed by the leading
lights in horticulture. But I guarantee you won't have to leave
your armchair for a front-row seat. Over the next seven days we'll be
bringing you 11 hours of coverage. I'll be here every night with all
your favourite faces keeping you right up to date. Rachel De Thame,
Christine Walkden, Nicki Chapman, Andy Sturgeon, Alys Fowler, Tom
Hart Dyke and Chris Beardshaw, to name but a few, will be bringing
you their unique insight into Chelsea 2012.
And we couldn't keep floral fanatics Carol Klein and James Wong
away either! Carol, what do you think of it so far? I think it's
wonderful! I think considering the sort of problems that people must
have experienced - I mean, the terrible weather - lots of rain
during the build-up, not to mention the cold - you know, right through
the spring, and plants have been held back so much. They have been,
you know, raring to get going, but somehow everybody seems to have
pulled it off. Because people think oh, I'm going to go there. It's all
going to be green. There will be no flowers. They'll have to make do
and mend. Not a bit it. There is lots of green, but it's just a
beautiful background for a lot of lovely, luscious colour. Now, James,
you're normally making gardens. You're off this year. You're going
around lightheaded I should think, no responsibility at all, but you
know how they all feel at this moment. Exactly. Just walking in
here I am feeling anxious because I know exactly what's going through
their heads. People think of Chelsea as being really beautiful
and glamorous. What they don't think about is all the pressure
that is on each one of the designers to pull all of that off.
It's hundreds of thousands of pounds, years worth of work, and
it's all on their shoulders. it's hundreds of thousands of
pounds, it's had to cost your sponsors hundreds of thousands of
pounds - only a gold will do. Exactly. Only gold will do. You
have to pull it off and make a miracle.
This year there are 16 large show gardens along Main Avenue. The big
ones are 15 metres x 10 metres and huge at 22 metres x 10 metres. We
three have been going around and having a sneaky peek.
Where better to start than with Mr Best in Show 2011 in Cleve West's
lovely garden? You can always rely on Cleve for something really
thoughtful, really innovative, something that makes you think and
gets you going, but this year he's reverted to a much more formal
theme. He's got these wonderful stone paths, lots of straight lines,
this great formal topiarys that almost populate the garden. They're
like people, but within that, there's Cleve West's signature.
These wonderful plantings rich in plants - it really is a plant
person's paradise. It's been a truly difficult year
for all garden designers - all exhibitors, in fact. And lots of
plants just haven't done what they're expected to do, but Cleve's
really made the most of that fact. He appreciates the stems and the
background to these scintillating spots of colour, vivid poppies and
the glowing heads of the euphorbia. I think it's inspiring and all
about anticipation too, and surely that is what gardening is all about.
Last year he built a pink sky garden. So impressive was it, it
even managed to win the People's Award. This year it's an 80-foot
pyramid. It's a garden designed of course by Diarmuid Gavin. What a
pyramid it is - seven floors. You can see it from Chelsea embankment.
It catchs the eyes of everybody that goes past - some installation
it is. To prepare it - he isn't finished yet - he has been using a
lift. I am on the fourth floor, which has a wonderful display of
fruit and vegetables and a beautiful pastel-painted greenhouse.
You'll find other features on other floors. There is a shower in here
somewhere, lots of pieces of scupture, a preponderance of
climbing plants climbing up the scaffolding. There are lots of
hints, tips and wrinkles because this is a practical garden as well
as one that looks as though it's a bit of a gimmick. What it's trying
to do is encourage people to garden in the city, to make the use of the
most contracted little spaces, to grow something to brighten their
lives. It is, says Diarmuid, a retreat. It's a magical garden, and
when you have made your way up here to many of these various seven
floors and looked at what's here, you can make your way down rather
more speedily because there is a large, galvanised steel sheet
rather like a fairground helterskelter. That'll get you
interest top to bottom rather more quickly even than the lift is
getting you up. Now, somewhere in here, he tells me, there is also a
gentleman's club - a bit sexist, I thought, but he's threatened to
meet me there on Wednesday when we'll have a chat about this
installation. I just hope he's got the brandy and cigars ready!
This year Chelsea welcomed Sarah Price to Main Avenue. It's her
first ever large show garden, and she's designed it on her own. What
I think is brilliant about it is a real clear juxtaposition between
very elegant, modernist, almost quite monumental hard landscaping
which is really contrasted with a very lush, naturalistic sort of
planting. There is a really fun, playful interaction between the two.
You end up with this gravel chipping path that is absolutely
straight and geometrical but with a break that's made a break for the
borders. There is a steppingstone path,
almost a child-like approach to it. There is a particularly clever bit
of transition going on here in between the woodland planting
behind me and this water feature with its hard landscaping. The
water actually bleeds between the enormous boulders and is softened
by this boggy planting, very swish, very beautiful. With all the
appalling growing weather we have had this year, you would never know
to it look at this garden. The designer and his team have managed
to pull off almost the impossible and create a garden that's fresh,
bright and glossy, easily one of my favourite gardens this year. This
is what Chelsea is all about. Now, you might be wondering where
my usual Chelsea sidekick Joe Swift is. Well, for years I've been
challenging him - nagging him - to take the plunge and use his design
skills to create a Chelsea show garden, and every year he's come up
with an excuse. But this year he's only gone and done it! He's swapped
the sofa for a sketchpad and finally dived in head first. He
searched for inspiration, and it turns out he didn't have to wander
far from his front door to find it. I have always gone to Chelsea and
always thought I really want to do a garden here, but by the time I
got around to thinking yeah, I want to do one, it's always too late.
But this year I thought, no, I'm going to do one. Alan has been
winding me up about it for many a year, as have others, so I sat down
and designed myself a dream garden and just got the process rolling.
The garden is big. It's pretty bold and contemporary. It's got some
main elements it just couldn't live without, so I've got these four
enormous wooden frames. They've got a slight curve, and then there is
an aperture in each one, and through the first one you see this
large boulder down - coming down one side which has been
horizontally sliced. With the natural forms of the timber and the
stone, we're looking to balance it out really with some planting, and
the first thing I'm doing structurally is getting some big
Treece into there. The idea is that the frames and the trees just keep
drawing your eye through the garden from the front right to the back,
so it gives it an element of depth. It's sort of subliminal in a way
where the inspiration has come from because I have designed this garden
that I think will be a good-looking Chelsea show garden that I am
pleased with, but a lot of the elements in it are so subliminal
that I see them all around me all the time.
# London calling # Through the far-away towns
# War is declared # This is one of the trees going in
my Chelsea garden, and believe it or not, this is my street. I live
just here, and I saw these wonderful trees. They're amazing. I
thought, I have the same tree outside my front door. It's amazing.
What's wonderful about them is you have this beautiful peeling bark.
What I am going to have to do is before Chelsea opens, go around
with my gloves and flake it away a little bit to reveal this orangey
bark. It's almost like I am monitering them from my window.
The really weird thing was not only the corner is on my street - this
tree as well - this is the Amber Beauty. It's got this wonderful
tact I'll -- tactile trunk. Again, it's peeling, but this has more of
a golden tone. You have these three trees I have at Chelsea within
about a hundred yards from my house. We're at Mabley Green. Basically,
it's grass, lots of football pitches. My son comes and plays
football here. But there is this huge boulder in the middle of it.
It's absolutely enormous. There is something magnetic about natural
forms in the city because we see so much steel, concrete and Tarmac and
that sort of thing that when you see something like this, you just
want to get up close and actually experience it. This is heavily
influenced -- this has heavily influenced my garden design, I
think. It's staggering. This is my local canal, and these
big bridges in effect frame a view all the way through, which my
timber frames are going to do in my garden, so they sort of keep the
eye level down, and also they play with light and dark, which I think
is quite interesting. So the lighter side through the other side
is where you can place a rock or some planting to really highlight
it, and I mean, these are pretty harsh. It's a harsh environment,
but in the Chelsea garden, I'm going to have lots of planting to
soften it. As you can see, there is a tree there breaking that harsh
line at the back. That's what I am trying to create. These bridges are
definitely a big unfluence, I would say.
-- influence, I would say. I hope Alan genuinely likes it. I hope he
just thinks it's a worthy Chelsea show garden. That's what I am
hoping. And I'm hoping he's not too rude about it.
Me? Rude? What do you think? What do you think, honestly? It's all
right, if you like that sort of thing!
LAUGHTER Do you know how much work goes
into... Yes, I jolly well do. You know, I can't believe - I will look
at these gardens in a whole new light. 21 days since May 1 building
this garden, but it has been amazing. That line "tired and
emotional" - you have become more tired and emotional than anything
else in the world apart from getting married. It feels like my
baby, having designed it a year ago, the process, then being here with
every stone and plant and tweaking it all around. Are you happy with
it? Oh, I am delighted with the whole thing. Well, my tree is
coming into leaf slower. The cold nights here have slowed it down a
little bit, but I am delighted with this garden. I want this garden. My
biggest worry is I was going to turn around at if end of this whole
process and think I don't actually like it very much, but I love it. I
am really pleased. The teamwork behind it - I've just got to go
into it - the landscapers - Anna Porter helped me do the planting -
she has an eye for detail. It's turning into an Oscar speech. We're
not quite there yet. No. Are you going to get a gold? You tell me. I
don't know. I can't see it objectively anymore. I love the
garden. But that people like it is much more important than anything.
It would be lovely to have a gold. Of course it would! What I love
about it is there is a lot of purple and pink and soft colours
like that. This is fiery. We've got wonderful irises down there and
this deep purpley brown. This flower has never been at Chelsea
before, but it is exactly the warm tones I was looking for. I have
seen a lot of purple and pinks at Chelsea before, but I wanted to
warm the garden up because even on a rainy, grey - it does happen -
day, it feels warm. And the arches... These are lovely
strucktures. They're designed to draw the eye but also divide the
garden up. You're pleased. It's just down to the judges. I am
pleased. What do you think, honestly? Honestly? I've got to be
honest, really. I think it's brilliant. I am ever so proud of
you. Joe might be busy for the next week,
but Nicki Chapman is going to be even busier bringing you an extra
Beardshaw and Toby Buckland. We'll have all the latest news, views and
insider tips and we'll be meeting a whole host of celebrities. There's
Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Stephanie Cole, Mary Berry,
to name drop just a future they'll be telling us of their passion for
gardening and Chelsea. And on Tuesday we'll be up at dawn to
bring awe rundown, who will be leaving the show with a prestigious
medal? And we'll be speaking to the gardener who wins the coveted Best
in Show award 2012. You can see even more of Toby by pressing your
Red Button. On the Red Button we like to think we go a bit deeper.
We look at the how and the why. We get the word-of-mouth from the
designers themselves and look at the Great Pavilion and the plants
in more detail. There is so much to see. Any particular themes we
should be looking out for? Every year the themes change. We look at
the plants and the design aspects that join the Great Pavilion to
those in the garden. Plants and gardens that display a high level
of artistry. Designs that break the rules, and plants that break the
rules as well. Is it true you're here when we've all gone home?
We've got an exclusive. We'll be looking at the gardens after dark,
and plants that come to life and bring a garden that little
something special after dark. all love the use our gardens in the
evenings after the sun has set. I bet hate a totally different
atmosphere here. You look at the gardens here and you think they are
a bit of a masquerade, but they are not one- dimensional show gardens.
Many of them are lit and have plants that are night-scented or
have an ethereal glow when the sun goes down. You can press your Red
Button after tomorrow's lunchtime show. It is not just the gardens
that capture the imagination here at Chelsea. Right at the heart of
the showground stands the Great Pavilion. It is a horticultural big
top bursting with the finest specimens of plants and flowers
from all over the planet. Competition to win best exhibit
here is just as fear as out in the gardens. Attracting the judge's eye
needs a mix of attention to detail and attention seeking. Are viing to
be this year's most extraordinary and extravagant exhibit. One of the
biggest show stoppers comes all the way from Thailand. Welcome to the
dramatic but delicate world of Nong Nooch, a public garden on the
eastern seaboard of Thailand. This is their third year of exhibiting
at Chelsea. So far they've always left with a gold. If you ask me,
but what I know, they are likely to have another this year. 40,000
orchids brought together to form an exhibit which would encourage you
to travel to Thailand at the drop of a palm hat. There are water
buffalos here made of palm fronds to exemplify the reliance Thailand
placed on the water buffalo in terms of labour all those years ago.
They are still used today. And there's a royal barge a nice
resonance with our river pageants in a few weeks time. This one is
gilded to within an inch of its life. And then the royal chariot.
Playing here in a sea of orchids happy Thai children. The sne
centrepiece of the exhirt is a traditional Thai house with its
little minarets on the top. All of it submerged in a sea of 08,000
orchid flowers. This is a supremely exotic exhibit. What they want here
is for us to realise how beautiful Thailand is and to look at it in
the flesh. For those of us who can't get there can come here and
marvel not just at the glory and colour but the skill of cultivation.
Chelsea is above all about gardening, about growing. And all
over the world people are doing that and bringing their skills
right here to SW3. This is one of the best.
You can always rely on this clematis stand to produce a
spectacle. Not only is the kiss play incredibly innovative,
beautifully designed, but it is packed to the gunnels with the most
magnificent plants -- packed to the gunwales with the most magnificent
plants. This year there are three now introductions.
Hell ina, Zara and the Countess of Wessex. All three of the plants
have the same quality. The flowers face upwards so you can really
enjoy the magnificence of them. And they were all easy to grow. And
they are prolific. They start early and they will go on blooming right
the way through into the autumn. They are incredibly easy to look
after too. People are always pondering about just how you prune
your clematis, but in this case, and that goes for most of the
plants here, they just take the shears and they cut them down to
the ground. So whether it's large- flowered hybrids or these
marvellous plants the treatment is the same. Quite honestly you are
spoilt for choice. You almost want to build a wall just so you can
grow them. If you don't have a wall, how about these new plants in
containers right the way through the garden?
As well as exotic locations and British nurseries, local
authorities are also represented here. You may remember a few years
ago Leeds City Council had a water wheel exhibit outside, and another
with canals. This year it is the turn of Birmingham City Council in
the pavilion with on this corner a Mini, covered in carpet bedding.
Sedums on the roof and on the won't. I bought a Mini in 1974. My first
car, brand-new it was. Cost me �740 and a very large bank loan. Happy
memories. I think that's what Birmingham City are doing here,
bringing together all of the facets of the city. This Mini was made in
long bridge. On the other side of the exhibit is a canal. There's a
great canal network in Birmingham. Here is Birmingham Town Hall with
an enormous portico. And a lot of metalwork. There is the jewellery
quarter understand is where Matthew Bolton came from with his wonderful
pieces, crafted around blue John. This is wonderful to see a local
authority proud in what it can achieve and showing off the
delights of a British city. Nurserymen and women come from far
and wide to show their specimens of horticultural perfection. This year
Claire Batten and Jeff Rowe have travelled from Trewidden. They were
armed with a selection of exotics that originate from across the
globe but thrive in the Cornish climate. As Chelsea first-timers
they are hoping to cause a stir. For us this is the perfect location
for growing our type of plants. It's got the light levels, the
climate is good and it's perfect for the South African plants that
we grow. We was just doing a few car boots, me and Clare. Clare got
a job at the nursery before we took it on, doing propagating. And then
we had the opportunity to take the nursery on ourselves. This year
we're doing every RHS show. A bit of leap from 18 months of not doing
any to doing them all now. This is the propagation house. We are old
school. We produce 5 % -- we grow 95% of our plants here. It is what
we did horticulture for. We didn't do it to see what was in the next
catalogue. We wanted to do everything from the beginning. Some
of these plants are seven or eight years old, so it is a passion to
get them to Chelsea really. The passion for these plants came from
when I was working on Tresco as a student. We did our work experience
on the Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly. One of the things we got
to do was plant the protea bank. Once you've seen these flowering
nothing else compares to them. It was just such an honour to be able
to plant that. It's always going to be there to go back and look at.
Here in the South West we've got similar conditions to the Cape,
where we've got decomposing granite mass. The cliff is brilliant,
because it has good drainage. We are similar but slightly different.
We are slightly colder and wetter, so it does make it a little more
difficult than out in South Africa. The soil is key to trying to get a
gold medal at Chelsea when you are growing the likes of a protestia.
We've trialled different mixes over the years and found there is no
replacement for putting Pete in the substraight. This is my own secret
recipe and we've found this is best for us. As you can see, we use a
fine peat, it is a clean, airy and open mix. Proteas do like a lot of
air in the roots. They don't like root disturbance. They don't like
feed in the mix, because the phosphates burn the feeder roots.
If you look on there you can just see what looks like mould but they
are the fine feeder roots. We take the next size pot up. Get it nice
and even. Never use your thumbs, as you will compress the compost far
too much. You want to leave a lip so that when you give it a good
soak the water doesn't run off the top. All being well that will make
a gold medal-winning plant in a few years' time.
Most of the plants in this tunnel are the show plants and the best of
which are going to be going to Chelsea. I'm deadheading here. With
these daisies the more you dead- head the more they flower. We are
taking all of the flowering ones out now. Most of the time we work
quite well together don't stpwhe Generally. We have our odd blip.
You tend to get a bit tired and emotional. I will be over the Moon
with a gold but we'll be happy with whatever medal we get really. If
from that film that you are married, but you are not? No, he is my
brother-in-law. So it's in the family. Have we had the odd blip?
One little blip earlier on. I couldn't quite reach and do
something and I had to walk away. Down in Cornwall, the furthest
south-west garden and nursery exhibiting here at Chelsea, how
tough has it been for you? It's been cold this year. Had that
lovely early sun and it stopped. Not enough light for us down there.
You were talking about using peat. That's controversial. Presumably
you've found that if you didn't use peat for your Proteas, and there is
an example here, you wouldn't be able to produce that? We've
experimented with lots of different substitutes, coir and peat-free but
there is nothing to beat the peat. Good luck. One plant blows we away.
Tell us what it is Clare. It is from South Africa. It is on the
endangered list. It is very rare? Yes. We grow pretty seed and now we
can produce our own seeds. How old is that plant? Between six and
seven years old. It was worth coming, certainly worth any
plantsman to watch and drifpblt good luck. We'll catch up with you
on Tuesday. We wish you all -- watch and dribble. Good luck. We'll
catch up with you on Tuesday. More to come. Queen of green Beth Chatto
offers inspiration to Nicholas Dexter. It came into my head, I
didn't want a heather garden and not a rose garden. I would like a
dried up the riverbed. Andy sturgeon explains his show garden
to us in new English. I sit for months waiting for a you
Rica moment to come and then it does! And making a mint. We meet
the folk who produce Chelsea's gold guardens with their generous
budgets and big-name designers get the most attention here at Chelsea,
but make no mistake the small gardens still hold their own. James
has been taking a closer look. There are 17 small gardens this
year, and the challenge for the designers is to create clever
solutions for small, restricted outdoor spaces. There are two key
categories, the first, artisan - using sustainable materials in an
artistic way. This is the plant explorer's garden designed and
built by the students of the Scottish Agricultural College.
Their theme for the garden is that of a young plant explorer who
spends most of his time travelling, collecting and researching plants
around the world. The design incorporates an outdoor office for
planning and cataloguing adventures and a greenhouse for growing and
propagating plants. One of the more unusual features of the garden are
these resin blocks which are effectively parts of the planting
around the garden that have been frozen in time to create something
like a herbarian specimen they would use. Interesting, it's a bit
like a cross-over between the planting and the artwork.
The overall style is naturalistic and includes the fantastic wallemia
pien, thought instinct until rediscovered in one chasm in the
'90s. Being a real exotic plant geek, I
am really spoilt for choice in this garden, but this has got to be
without a doubt my absolute favourite. There isn't a single bed
of plant for giving a subof- tropical feel to your garden than
the Japanese banana. Although the college has been here
before, it's the first time at Chelsea for these students, and
they certainly get top marks from me. Of course, we'll be look at the
other artisan gardens over the course of the week.
The remaining small gardens have been recategorised. Last year they
were called urban gardens. This year it's all change as commelsy
borders on controversy. Alex, you're the RHS show manager here.
Tell us more about this exciting category. We decided to rip up the
rule books, Nicki, and we have literally changed this entire area
of the show ground. We needed something fresh and different. This
was very tired, and this is what we have done. Certainly, standing here
I never thought I was going to see blue string at Chelsea. Isn't it
stunning? I think it's going to relate to a younger audience. We're
going to get young people involved in gardening through these types of
materials. We have the blue string through Alan's design and these
steel towers by Joe Chapman, then behind us we have this QR code.
How fantastic. When you come up with a new category, do you have
any idea what is going to be submitted? Because here it seems to
be so cutting edge. I have seen things in these gardens I am
standing around looking at I have never seen before. I think it's
really radical. I think it's going to shock our visitors at what we
have actually achieved. So I am thrilled with how we have
progressed with it. Chelsea always wants to be fresh and new, don't
you? I think that's what you have achieved. I hope the public love it.
I am sure they will. I have to ask you about the weather. We're
British. We're obsessed, aren't we We are. Parts of the country,
including the south-east, still have hosepipe ban. Sure. It must
have been the worst drought ever here. It. Has been horrific, but in
that true Chelsea spirit, everyone has gotten on with it, no moaning,
heads down and created the most spectacular gardens we have seen in
years. We actually have a borehole here in Chelsea, so since the last
drought we put that in place because, of course, we can't manage
without having that supply. What has it been like for the builders
and the designers. They have come in. It has been extremely dry.
Everyone has been suffering, then suddenly, it's like the heavens
opened and a monsoon. It's the cold as well. It's two things combined -
the cold has really shocked plants, and what they really needed was
this lovely heat to bring them out. That's what designers have been
struggling with and having to change plants at the last minute.
am sure in the Great Pavilion they have their work cut out for them.
How have they coped? Really well. A couple of people have had to reduce
their stands, but they're still putting on the most fantastic
displace. We have only had one cancellation, and that's been
instantly replaced by somebody on our waiting list, so we're thrilled
to bits. Thank you very much. We absolutely love this new category -
fresh gardens - that's where it's The Fresh Garden category is
definitely going to put the cat among the pigeons. This is one of
them. It's simply called Green With - by Tony Smith. It uses artificial
grass and silk orchids set in plastic cylinders to signify them
being objects of desire and slightly out of reach. We have
tulips in here for tulip-a-mania in here - that 17th century craze and
down at the bottom, the Victorian fern craze. Clergymen went
everywhere for a fern. They're all behind bars. That's what you get
when you're Green With Envy. Despite the downpours we have been
having of late, H20 remains ever precious and continuing to think
preciously about water is vital. We caught up with Mr Dexter as he
toured Beth Chatto's garden for inspiration. It's a garden that's
only ever been watered by rainfall Chatto's books, I have been a long-
time admirer. She's such an inspiration for the garden anyway,
so I wanted to come here specifically to look at what sorts
of plants are growing here, and knowing that these plants don't get
any water - look at them. They're thriving, looking fantastic. It's
exactly what you want to achieve at Chelsea.
When the plants were planted, they were planted into a well-cultivated
soil, and once they become established, they're happy. I mean,
they grow natively in the wild in these situations, so they look
after themselves, and it doesn't require any artificial work to keep
them at their best. Beth Chatto's ethos is just everything live. It's
all about using the right plants and creating a sense of oecology
and what plants go well together. That's exactly what you've got here
and just the way in which the forms and textures combine - it just all
works. What was your inspiration for your garden here? To start with
it was - I knew that I had to grow drought-loving plants because our
average rainfall is the lowest in the country, about 20 inches. Last
year it was 15. We still have five- and-a-half inches short, but part
of the inspiration is I was in Australia with Christopher Lloyd,
and we stood look down on a dried- up riverbed, sinewously with lots
of exposed rock, grarvel, stone and things, and I don't know. Suddenly
it came into my head, no, I don't want a heather garden, certainly
not a rose garden. I want a dried- up riverbed. Of course, it's not as
dried up looking as it might be because I chose plants that survive
without irrigation. Gardening is like painting. Every artist is
different. It would be boring if we garden is the way that there is no
actual boundaries. The gravel just permeates the whole planted area.
We have lovely low-growing lepetus here. We have here stackus creating
a continuous ground cover through which agapanthus are growing and
creating a contrast. It's a bit like a fireworks display, so some
plants are getting ready to flower, others are performing supporting
roles. There is nothing showy about it. It's more about the fact that
the plants belong in gravel. They're low growing and knit
together well to form nice plant communities.
I really like this part of the garden because it combines
different textures together, and it's a really soft and natural look.
It's the sort of thing I want to do in the garden at Chelsea. I just
love the way the grass is blowing around in the wind and not really
competing for attention at all. It's just intermingling with the
low of growing silvery shrubs. It's not relying on flower colour, but
more textures and the way they're in the Fresh Garden category. It's
a nine metre by six metre garden. Hopefully people can look at this
space and know it's doable in their own gardens. We're using Salvias,
nakivias - plants you'll be familiar with but plants that are
grow in drought conditions. It's Chelsea. You can explore new
landscaping techniques or hard landscaping techniques. It's
exciting to be part of. You got to meet the great lady
herself. Yeah, it was amazing. I sign up totally to what she
believes in, that sort of natural planting. She was so warm and
friendly. It was just - sitting in her garden, just having a chat
about gardens - two gardeners just having a chat about natural
planting. I totally sign up to her way of thinking. That signing up is
evident in the garden you have made. It's also about water conservation
as well as growing plants that can cope with less of it. You have this
astonishing water bottle on the wall. What's that all about? We're
working for the Southern Counties water companies. One of the key
messages they want to promote is using less water in the garden. One
way of doing that is to collect water. You can channel it into
storage ponds to irrigate the garden. We should be doing more of
that. Rainwater from the roofs is the biggest waste we have because
it always runs away. You always have a full watering can? Always.
Any excess goes into the pond behind us. You have this rail going
on down here. There are dramatic shapes in this garden as well as
the soft grasses and planting. a hard sell to go for angular
shapes but the reason it's angular is I was struggling to come up with
an idea of how to represent Druitt. Show gardens are quite forward
thinking. I started to draw jagged lines to represent dry, parched
earth. It just turned into irrigation channels and the idea of
them cutting through paving and things like that. You're moving
water around - moving the water to where you need it? Yes. I think the
idea of capturing rainwater is great, but the ability to transport
it to different parts of the garden is what is missing. It was an old
idea in the Islamic and Persian gardens. They have always done it
on grid lay-outs. We have done it with a contemporary twist I suppose.
Let's hope the water boards take your hint - nudge, nudge. One of
the highly it's of last year's show was the emotive action from
designer GI Hwuang when she found out she'd won an award for
Trewidden Nursery, Korean for toilet.
This year she's hoping to supersize her success with Quiet Time,
Demilitarised Zone Forbidden Garden. James is taking a look. Inspired by
the border between north and South Korea, you might imagine a garden
with a brief like this would be quite stark and oppressive, but
what the designers have done with this is quite beautiful, probably
one of the most original gardens I have seen at Chelsea in years.
This garden is so evocative in its detail. There are discarded bullet
cases, uniform buttons and even the barbed wire is mirrored by trailing
and there to add interest and depth. What this garden does so incredibly
well is its almost forensic level of detail with the planting. If you
look down here, it is so naturalistic, you feel like you
have been cut and pasted and dropped into the Korean countryside.
What I love about it is things like that flowering cherry there - any
other garden on Main Avenue, if they were to have that cherry, it
would be blousey, full of flowers. Here, it's natural and fits
create a genuine sense of atmosphere. This garden has it in
budget loads. Equally tranquil and poignant. A gold medal has eluded
Tom Hoblyn since 2008 but he's here to try again. Making a garden based
on an Italian renaissance theme. Lots of formality and beautiful
expect from box and yew topiary has been replaced by myrtle and it is
sparked here and there, nature begins to take over. With plants
like rose marry nefolias, with silver spires and intrusion you to
these glorious plants with spires of blue flower.
-- introducing you. And here at the back of the garden behind these
towering plants the plants really have escaped. There are tumbling
thymes and silvery artemesi actions. I really hope that -- artemisias. I
hope that Tom has cracked it this time. The RHS judges will be making
their rounds tomorrow night and the results be delivered at the crack
of dawn on Tuesday morning. All the designers, no matter what they say,
Joe Swift, are after one of these - a card bearing a gold medal. But if
you are an exhibitor who wins a gold for the first time you get
something heavier, a weighty medal meticulously minted in Surrey.
We have a contract, which we've had since 2003, to strike the RHS gold
medals. The whole process from design to the finished product
takes about four weeks, and it is very labour intensive. Once we have
had the design approved, we have a plaster made and then convert this
plaster into a resin. Once the rez enhas been produced, we can then
put that on to the dye cutting machine.
At the moment this year we are making a lot of coins for
particular anniversarys, like the Diamond Jubilee, and the
anniversary of the Titanic. This needle is feeling what's on the
resin. It is going through the machine and cutting it with a
diamond cutter. How long has this been cutting for? Night takes
roughly a week. So the RHS medal will take two to three days,
because it is a lot smaller. That will then be our master die. This
is the main process now, where we are actually going to strike the
RHS medal. David is inspecting the blank. To me this is one of the
most important processes, to make sure a blank has no mark whatsoever
on. He's cleaning it, making sure there is not even a little dust
mark particle on it. You have the two dies, the top and bottom, which
is going to squeeze the blank and put the impression on it. The blank
is struck once, twice. And here we have a finished medal. With Royal
Horticultural Society on one side and the wreath, which can be
engraved in the centre, on the other. We appreciate all the time
and effort that is put into winning an RHS gold medal, so I hope the
end user who is worthy of this product appreciates us.
And here it is. This finely crafted golden disk is what Chelsea is all
about. The sweat, the tears, the sleepless nights. This is what
every single exhibitor at Chelsea dreams of, including Patricia Fox.
She's a Chelsea first-timer and this is her garden. Rooftop
workplace for tomorrow. I have to tell you I quite like this rooftop
workplace today. A chic modern area in which you can hold meetings,
have PowerPoint presentations - I can't stand them myself but I
wouldn't mind them if that screen back there was part of my
PowerPoint presentation. Outside is an incredibly modern rooftop. It is
using space that wouldn't otherwise be utilised. A sleek deck edged in
aluminium work and smart box planting, grasses are planted. Grey
and Silverleaf foliage plants. Thyme over there, all of which can
cope with exposure to full sunlight, quite a bit of breeze, and the
atmosphere here, there is even a green well. You can tell I'm
enthusiastic about. This I like this. Whether or not it will get
one of these, who knows? It can be make or break for first-timers,
with a line-up of gardens designed by the business, competition to
capture the imagination of the world and the eyes of the judges is
tough. Does it get easier with experience. Carol, Nicki and James
have been catching up with some Chelsea veteran to see how their
pre-opening nerves are coping. Chris, do you ever get stressed?
have a receden hairline and grey hairs! The point is getting
stressed and worrying about it doesn't make the job easier, it
makes it worse. You have to believe in the plants. They almost tell you
where they want to be in the garden. They bounce off one another. Tell
us more about this garden. This is the Furzey garden and it is to
celebrate the Minster Training Project in the heart of the New
Forest, which is 30 years old. It deals specifically with adults with
learning disabilities. This whole initiative is celebrating how they,
if they are given the right tuition, the right funding and support, can
integrate into a skilled team and produce these results. It is the
first time these sorts of people have created a garden in Chelsea.
They've never created a garden but we thought if we are to do it, do
it on the grandest scale. involved did the students become?
The vast majority of the material has been lift from the garden or
propagated by the opportunities at Furzey. We've had students every
day on the build. They've been hands on. The master Thatcher Simon
has a student. It is full involvement. That's what has really
been fun, because it has brought a smile to everyone's face. It means
something to them just as much as it does to us. Our master thatcher
builds these on a single piece of work. It starts there and we
started with a twisted cherry and allowed it to evolve. These are
lookout platforms, retreats. get on well with your neighbours?
Yes, we do. There has never been a formal boundary between us. We play
chess with our shrubs and trees and created a flowing structure.
are you going to do on medals day? I don't think the judges will like
it. These are rhododendrons and they are big and blousey. Let's see
if you get a prize. Thank you. Andy, you have been coming so long
you are called a veteran. You will be wearing a red coat before you
know where you are. How due come one these new ideas every time?
sit for months waiting for a you Rica moment and then it comes. I
had an idea to base the garden on the principles of the arts and
crafts movement. Although I design modern gardens I'm employing quite
traditional techniques. It seemed a natural thing to do. It is a lovely
progress. Gardening is a traditional thing anyway isn't it,
based in the earth. It It works wonderfully. It really does. This
lovely coppery colour picked up everywhere by your planting.
trees have a coppery tinge in the legal. And the grass. The shapes
and circles, I have Angelica and cow parsley and other humbles.
Subtle things. And don't they just work beautifully? You've really
pulled it off. Thank you very much. Jason, you are new to Chelsea but
you are working with a really experienced Flemings team, with an
amazing pedigree. Are you feeling the pressure? I felt the pressure
before I got here. I've used their experience. That's calmed me down,
but it has been emotional and satisfying. I picked an amazing
team of people. It is like being a footie coach. Pick Apple the right
guys and work together. That's just as rewarding to see that happen as
building this beautiful garden. can see the spirit of Australia
here. Is there anything specifically here? Talk me through
it. The back wall is like the Sydney harbour bridge, made of
sandstone. The floors represent Melbourne. Everyone has a tin shed
in their back yard. That's my old roof. The feel is my Australia -
Melbourne and Sydneyened and the plants are subtropical, which is
Queensland. And you have an outdoor fireplace. I didn't like school
much and dad taught me a lot sight around a Barbie. I like the
subtropical stuff. A top two? are a few Australian natives and
others from New Zealand and Europe. We are multicultural but when we
are together we are all Australian. It is brilliant. Congratulations.
Thanks mate. There is still plenty of gardens to
be unveiled, large and small, and the Great Pavilion is hiding more
than a few surprises too. The race is on for all the exhibitors to
finish before the gates open to the press and Her Majesty the Queen
tomorrow. What a show. Any trends you've spotted? There are often
similarities. Yes, startling similarities really between the
gardens. Lots of this contrast between the formal and the informal.
Lots of pleached hedging and beautiful straight steps and paths.
In contrast this lovely flowing planting. It's a treat. But it is
right the way through. We could talk about it for hours. If you
can't get to the show but are in the capital this week, all over
London the Chelsea Fringe are stages gardening-related events.
We'll bring you news of some of them during the week. If you want
to check them out now go, to our website - bbc.co.uk/chelsea. It's a
all that we have time for tonight. We've reserved awe front row seat
starting on BBC 13 at 12.30pm tomorrow when Nicki Chapman and
Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Klein and James Wong take an exclusive peek at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show 2012 in this preview of the event. With show opening only hours away, they are joined by Nicki Chapman and Toby Buckland to see what gardening's greenest fingers are exhibiting this year in the Great Pavilion and show gardens. Joe Swift reveals the inspiration behind his first ever Chelsea garden, and Diarmuid Gavin unveils his high-rise pyramid garden.