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2018 & 2019 – The Eastern Avenue Years

For 2018 & 2019 we were given a Tradestand site on Eastern Avenue. And I can’t thank the RHS enough for it – it’s a wonderful spot close to the Royal Hospital Entrance. We also have really lovely neighbours which make it a great week.

The weather gods were kind for both years and we managed a good display winning a 4 Star tradestand award on both occasions. That said, 2019 was trickier with fewer flowers open than I would have liked. We also get some lovely visitors to our stand. Legendary judge, Jim Buttress and none other than Chris Beardshaw – thanks gents.

Turned out nicely

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2017 – The Year of The Great Pavilion!

I can still remember the letter from the Royal Horticultural Society arriving in late 2016 inviting us to exhibit in the Great Pavilion for the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show. I can not describe the excitement.

The RHS very kindly provided access to a top garden designer – Kate Gould – to help layout our stand. Following a really helpful day, the die was cast. Who’d have thought of using fake brick walls!

Aside from the usual business of growing plants, a whole new structure needed to be designed and built. Staging started earlier than usual – here’s a picture from the end of Wednesday. Erecting 6mm MDF sheet isn’t the easiest!

Next up was the more usual job of staging plants. We also entered as a Linley Exhibit which requires an educational element so we designed and built a run through of the seed sowing and cutting taking processes. In hindsight, too much content for a small space. One or the other next time.

Cutting a long story short, after a huge effort from the team – massive thanks to Ali, Joan, Jackie and the ever suffering Anne, we staged a really good exhibit. The BBC thought so and used it for Carol Klein to sit on for the Monday Night Chelsea programme.

Carol Klein and me!

And of course our stand, our lovely stand that won a Silver Medal. Compared to building the usual tradestand, the Great Pavilion is like going from League 2 to the World Cup. A different world. Lots of hard work and stress. Will we do it again? You bet!

And a close up

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Catching up!

Has been a good few years so I last wrote a blog update on our Chelsea exploits.  Far too long, especially as I find the photo record really useful in terms of the plants development and where they should be at a given point in time.

I’ll deal with the missing year first of all, the legend that was 2015!
2015, the kind of year Chelsea exhibitors dread.  A very cold – and even worse – very dull spring.  Cold and sunny is ok as under glass it is obviously much warmer.  Dull and cold is a disaster as plant growth is horrendously slow.

Cutting to the chase, for judging of our exhibit, we had one solitary floret open.  Yes, there were also some fairly poor white flowers, they were though cut flowers staged in lengths of waste pipe – just don’t tell anyone!
The judges didn’t mind though as we earned our first 4 Star Tradestand Award.  I think it must have been the slabs replacing the plastic grass!

The photo below was taken at the end of the week when a few more flowers had opened up.

To complete the preceding entries, here’s a picture of our 2016 stand, rather more flower power!

At the start of Chelsea week
And at the end of Chelsea Week. Huge difference in the plants

And a small insight into Chelsea build up. All the plants travel from the top of our garden to the front drive – a fair way. En route they visit the plant beauticians for tidying – this makes staging much, much quicker.

Next up will be 2017 – the year of getting to exhibit in the Great Pavilion!

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Just a week to go…

… And fingers crossed we’re looking good.

Here’s a general view of the delphs I have moved out of the greenhouse to hold them back a little.

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And the white bud from 4 weeks ago…

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Is now the spike on the left – fingers crossed it will hang on and its sister on the right open up some more.

And finally, the second bud we have been watching – wow! – is now the spike on the right.  Fingers still crossed for about 20 plants making the trip on Friday.

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Two weeks to go!

A fair sized update this evening!

First up, remember the bud from three weeks ago?  Here it is, it is the spike on the left!  The weather has been reasonable over the three weeks – border line too warm this weekend.  Always complaining!

imageHopefully it will still be ok for the show.  This is a last grown from my own hybridising so will be really pleased to have it on the stand.

As you can see, the plant is now outside.  Given the forecast for the next couple of weeks I’ve moved about 2o plants out of the greenhouse – this is to slow some down and also make space for those that remain.  Of course, it had to blow a hooly the day they moved outside.  Here’s a couple of pics.

We’ve had a busy day today, the plants are one thing – we also have a lot of other work to get the stand ready.  So plenty of woodworking and painting with more for next weekend.  Can’t wait to iron all that black sheeting to dress the stand….

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3 Weeks to go!!!

Hi, a quick update for you all.

Remember the bud from two weeks ago? – well, here it is now.

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I would expect it to have a few florets opening next weekend – so three weeks from bud to colour.  Counting up we have over 30 buds now at various stages of development.  Fingers crossed for us to have a few flowers.  Bud watch has proved useful to monitor development – so here’s another bud for us to follow, this time on a ‘Spindrift’.

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Here’s a general shot of the greenhouse –

imageFinally for this week, here’s a spike of ‘Gossamer’ that has had some colour for a week now.

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Bud Watch – the sequel

This is the same bud in the picture from just 8 days ago.

Three weeks on Friday the whole lot will be in the van – my fingers remain firmly crossed!

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Bud Watch

It’s that time of year when Springwatch normally hits the screen – here’s my version – Bud Watch.

I thought it would be interesting to track a bud from birth to flowering.

And here’s our guinea pig – snapped just this morning.

This plant is something of an old friend.  It is from my own breeding line and was growing in a friends garden before lifted for last year’s Chelsea.  It never made the show last year – whilst looking good for this.  Fingers crossed for it!

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Sunday 17th April

Last night I promised a couple of pictures to show the fab amount of growth in the last couple weeks.  Still praying for more sun though ☀️😄

Here’s a pic from two weeks ago –

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And here they are just this morning.

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Last night with a possible frost forecast we installed a small heater.  I’m expecting warmer nights to help move the plants along.  5 weeks today and the whole thing will be on site at the show.

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Chelsea 2016 – The Story So Far

So, you wait nearly two years for a post and then two come at once!

Has as become the routine, the delphiniums were loaded into the greenhouse in early January – just after all of the glass had been scrupulously cleaned.  Now, some of you may remember that we did not have much of a winter and I was very worried that the flowers would come and go before Chelsea.

I now laught at that thought and, as ever, am very worried about having some flowers in time for the show.  We might not have had much winter – sadly, not much spring either and growth has been slow.  Getting back from my work in Manchester on a Thursday night I don the head torch and go to the greenhouse.  The last two weeks have been disappointing with apparently little growth.

Having seen them properly in the light today, actually, they’ve grown enourmously.  Two weeks ago the stems were relatively thin and the foliage sparse.  Right now the stems are as thick as my thumb and the foliage much more lush.  Result!

The beauty of the blog though is that provided you put up regular pictures, you have a very good historical record.   This lets you compare plants with where they were in previous years.

April 15th 2013 and we had 4 buds.  April 16th 2016 and we also have 4 buds.  Oh the relief!!!

I’ll put some pictures up tomorrow.

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