Buildup started virtually as the design was finally accepted by the RHS last September, beginning with a round of meetings to sort out suppliers and then continuing for about six months, with meetings with the chosen suppliers. When a project is eight months ahead it is easy to think there is always going to be enough time but I was still making major decisions in April. By the time it came to the actual buildup in the Chelsea showground, I was pretty much exhausted. Luckily adrenaline clicked in and carried me through. It is very difficult at Chelsea to avoid treading on peoples toes. So many things going on at the same time in order to get the thing up and completed in just three weeks.
The garden buildup and scenes of the final garden
Visitors' responses to the garden at Chelsea
When I got to our allotted pitch it looked too small - just a green piece of turf 22m x 10m. But within a week as the outer wall went up and lines marking the different areas were set out, I felt a little more positive. Hilliers landscapes worked from dawn till dusk and you could see the garden unfolding before your eyes.
The outer wall had been built and some of the inner walls and levels had been marked out.
click on each image to enlarge
There is absolutely no room for manoevre at Chelsea. Everything has to be dropped virtually on your site and then moved around as you need the space. Vehicles enter the area and then leave the minute they have dropped their loads. There is a lot of shouting and an almost continual noise of lorries reversing, diggers and drills.
Exciting week with the arrival of Brian's Sun and path and the finishing of the rill and the installation of the 'George' waterwall.
A sneak preview of Brian Clarke's beautiful sun - I had to open this box as soon as it arrived on site. We had had so many discussions about every aspect of it and decide finally to leave it to Brian.
Still many areas to finish off. The writing on the rill to attach, the metal railings across the Liverpool gardens, while the herbaceous plants and small shrubs arrive in what seems like thousands.
Finally it was finished slightly ahead of time and then it was just a case of keeping the plants alive and growing-not easy in a heat wave.
The comments from our co-exhibitors and from the general public were fabulous. People were so moved by the garden - many in tears as they passed by the image of George on the waterwall. For Olivia and I it was exactly as I had drawn it and exactly as we had hoped it would be - a perfect tribute to George the Gardener.