Saturday, 5 July 2008

Almost there

The final planting has just about been done today, with only a handful of plants to quickly put into place tomorrow morning (Sunday). Sam has told us to be clear of things by lunchtime, or in his words 'I need the garden for a few hours', to tidy up and finish off the tiniest details. I looked at him slightly despondently: 'don't worry, I'll give you the garden back afterwards.'

I've got a live radio interview on site with Geoff Hodge for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in the morning and previously to that, a two minute slot with the RHS assessors, a sort of advance party for the judges, to tell them about the garden. They have a written Client's Brief to refer to as well so it's more of a quick blurt about the key points/features and any plant changes. There haven't been any radical ones although some of my perennials I wanted to use are swapped (see earlier blogs!) with others. Essentially, I've created the effect I was aiming for with a slightly different palette of plants but I'm happy with that.

The Homebase team have been fantastic all week, so helpful and enthusiastic about things. On Thursday, I had them washing the three Prunus serula trees to bring out the lovely bark. From late afternoon, the sun shines behind these trees and brings a magical orangey-brown glow to them. Also on Thursday, Ed my gardening supervisor at Brocket Hall (where I'm gardening consultant) came and helped out. He clipped the hornbeam hedge but was told to take his shoes off so as not squash the meadow turf in the process!

Press Day is on Monday and I hope I have few functioning brain cells left to talk sense to journalists! Today I was asked if all the colour in the garden was a response to the cool green of Chelsea's palette. I created my plant list last October- November, not knowing that green was a predominant feature at Chelsea, so my plants were chosen for texture, effect and place and not a knee-jerk reaction to Chelsea's plants. Besides, a herbaceous colour without colour doesn't exist in my gardens!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Willing hands

I'm on a quick visit home (my daughter's school prom!). This week has been manic, but everything is coming together nicely and finally, this garden that's been floating around in my head for the last eight months is coming to life. Days have been long, 12-14 hours and I haven't eaten or slept enough (not much time for either!).

Lots of happy Homebase people are turning up each day and just get on and do as they are told. Their help and that from those yet to come is invaluable: all those little jobs, and some quite large hefty ones, means that Sam and the Scotscape boys and I can focus on our tasks more effectively. A different group turn up each day from various Homebase stores in the country and their team leader Spencer, who is here very day, moves them from task to task. One huge job has been painting the wood on the building - the Forth Road Bridge comes to mind here. Spencer has managed to do quite a large area every day, singing along with the radio in the process. On Monday no sooner had he arrived when I shoved a shopping list in his hand and despatched him off to get various things, ranging from sponges to buckets and lavender plants. From Homebase stores, naturally...

The roof garden has been planted and we are expecting the glass surround to come on Friday. It's still a haven of peace, far away from the madding crowd. Janet, Nick and Siobhan are cracking on with planting up. Today we planted up the first area of meadow turf which meant taking off safety boots so as not to flatten the long grass too much. Some delicious looking veg plants turned up in the afternoon which are now snug in their wooden raised beds.

The weather forecast is not looking too good for the weekend: foul weather gear is packed for my return to the show site!