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Archive for June, 2011

Carol Miers, a journalist from Landscape Juice, has been following the progress of Jill Foxley’s and my gardens that we’re building (click on the link to read more). There will be more updates to come from me soon – more photos to upload, comments on all the other conceptual gardens – but for tonight I just need a shower and my bed!
Above is the Rousseau image that I am using as the basis for my jungle composition – lots of lovely plants going in – big leaves and hot coloured flowers. Hoping my Crososmia ‘Lucifer’ flower in time – I went around the show ground this morning looking for a greenhouse to put them into for a few days and found a willing display greenhouse company that said they would look after them for a while – sing to them, coax them…whatever it takes!

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Gill from Just Air Plants dropped off some plants for my Conceptual garden yesterday – air plants are plants that grow in jungle canopies and don’t need any soil – literally taking all their nutrients and water through their leaves. At BBC Gardener’s World Live last year, where I built my first show garden, Joe Swift commented that my aluminum cold frames reminded him of a Damien Hirst installation.


Not quite up to Damien Hirst’s work – but kind of him to make the suggestion!

So when I was considering what to do in my art gallery I happened to read an article in the American ‘Garden Design’ magazine about Air Plants. This gave me an idea about suspending them inside my cold frame in Hirst style. I googled ‘Plants in Formaldehyde’ just to see what came up. I did not find any images of plants in Formaldehyde but, instead, articles about the benefits of house plants in detoxifying the atmosphere to get rid of Formaldehyde, which I thought was quite an interesting connection.
I had virtually no knowledge of these strange plants and not a clue on who might be able to supply me with them – I had visions of trying to get them flown in from the US (which some of them did eventually do – when Gill told me they were in the country and awaiting their DEFRA inspection before I could take possesion of them it all sounded very exciting). The first search came up with a specialist company that were showing at Chelsea Flower Show this year and happened to be based 5 minutes from my house – some things are just meant to be. Gill has been a font of knowledge and has really helped me to choose the correct plants. I am also using some of her other Tillandsia in my Rousseau jungle scene.

Here is a Tillandsia ‘Jackie Loinaz’ suspended from our living room ceiling – the kids think it looks pretty cool!

Air Plants on the kitchen window sill

Work on site is going well – although it was another wet day up there today – hopefully tomorrow will be a little dryer as I have the guys in rendering and they have to be done by Friday – nothing like a little pressure!

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Day 2 was a great day’s building. We’d been slightly phased by the dire weather on the first day, plus I think it took us a while to get our heads around starting.

My builder John-William and his dad, Bill, both came up today and they work so well together that we really cracked most of the build. I have spent pretty much every day of the last year with John-William and Bill as they were building an extension on our house and I think knowing people that well really helps on a project like this. So from the computer model below:

To the gallery taking shape:

The forecast for today was supposed to be dreadful so the builders are taking a well deserved day off and I am packing up the van with the rest of the bits and pieces to take up. My husband, Charlie, is being roped in today and we need to take up the larger plants – Ligularia ‘The Rocket’ (below) which has shot up to over 5ft and some Gunnera manicata – brought all the way up from Cornwall in April which are huge and ridiculously heavy. I imagine this will either lead to bickering whilst we try to lug them about or exhausted hillarity!

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I don’t think there’s much to say really…it was pretty wet up there today!

This is my site after 2 hours of torrential rain.

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Hampton Court Palace Flower Show ‘Build Up’

I picked up the lorry this morning – I feel I have a slightly worrying soft spot for lorries and was very excited to be driving it! It’s now all packed up and ready to leave tomorrow morning at 5.45am. It feels a little strange to be all ready to go – there is so much organising for these shows and I’ve got as much of it done as I can, so now it’s all down to getting it built.

Unfortunately this is what Google says the weather will be like for the first few days of building….oh joy!


I had an email from a journalist at Landscape Juice today saying that she was interested in running a story on the build up of my garden and she also informed me of an interesting green wall outside the National Gallery to mimic a Van Gogh painting – seems like art and plants are very in vougue at the moment.

Time for bed – I will try and keep an update on the build progress but I imagine I’ll be having a few long days for a couple of weeks.

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I had a call at 11am this morning from BBC Radio Berkshire saying that their contributor had dropped out for the Anne Diamond Show today and would I be interested in going in to talk about my Hampton Court Garden. So an hour later I was sitting in the studio about to talk about my garden. Luckily, having thought about little else for the last few weeks, it’s quite easy to think of things to say. I had a really lovely time and it reminded me that this whole process is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and not the stressful mission that it sometimes feels like.

Listen to the Interview here – I’m on at about 2 hours in.

An amazing part of this job is the diversity…I was on the phone yesterday to a metal supplier in Finland asking about some prepatinated copper sheet that I’d like to use in the show garden…he was very sweet but said it would take 8 weeks to order. As I need it in 2 days this was not what I wanted to hear. I know I have left it late, but trying to think of good backdrops for the planting compositions has been harder than I thought. I was then set on the idea of a lovely aged green copper backdrop for the Kandinsky creation – inspired by the painting below.


I did however, track down a company who happened to stock this particular metal sheet – cunningly named ‘Metal Sheets’ , so it is now being packaged up and will hopefully arrive tomorrow. I chose the above painting, Sketch for Several Circles, Wassily Kandinsky 1926, as I thought it would be great to showcase some beautiful plants with either spherical flower heads such as the stunning Echinops ritroVeitch’s Blue’ (below) or spherical in shape such as a Buxus sempervirens ball.

It also gives me a chance to include some garden sculpture and I found a lovely metal garden sphere from The Edge Company – by the designer Garth Williams based in Sussex.

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I’m building a conceptual garden, Picturesque, at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year – 26 days to go and I’m feeling like I’m on adrenaline fueled auto-pilot! The show’s from the 5th-10th July for anyone thinking of visiting.

Conceptual gardens are about ideas and I’m hoping to provoke thoughts and inspire but mostly to create a space where people will enjoy being.

I’m building an out door art gallery where pieces of art, inspired by some of the worlds greatest artists, will be composed of plants. The idea originated from wanting to create ‘views’ out of a small space – something that I believe is an important part of my job as a garden designer. It slowly evolved as I began looking at framing views, galleries and then on to looking at how artists interpret nature.

So my artists are chosen: Monet, Hockney, Rousseau, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Hirst. Planting compositions range from Water lilies to Jungle plants to Air Plants – the latter only needing the air around them to survive and hence are part of my Hirst creation where they will be suspended – as if in Formaldehyde – in a glass tank. In my head it all works – I just hope the real thing works in practice.

I start building in 8 days time so lists and schedules are abundant as is paint, wood, sculptures, a pond and plants to look after.

Although the category of Conceptual Garden at Hampton Court is Sponsored by the RHS – a huge thank you has to go out to my additional contributors – Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery for all the materials they have given me and Pantiles Nursery for lending me some of their superb quality plants.

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