Sneaky Preview RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Wearing embarrassingly new steel toe cap boots, with matching high visibility couture, access was granted to the Royal Hospital grounds, where preparations for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 are in full swing. The sheer scale of work required to create this most famous of plant shows, is quite incredible. The grounds are simply packed with JCB’s, bobcats, lorries and vans, causing traffic jam havoc. The main Chelsea buildings; the Great Pavilion, stands and shop fronts are already in place, waiting to be filled with the legendary abundance of plants and delectable wares.

Only two weeks into construction, the show gardens are already emerging from the (very) muddy ground. Even at this premature stage, the detail that is Chelsea, is much evident. The majestically tall Cypress trees in Tom Hoblyn’s (Arthritis Research UK) garden are immaculately spaced out and precisely level; Arne Maynard’s (Laurent Perrier) garden boasts beautifully pruned topiary; the masonry work in Cleve West’s (Brewin Dolphin) garden seems almost ancient; the ever sparkling Doris (1950’s Fisher caravan) in Jo Thompson’s (The Caravan Club) garden, is poised and ready to accommodate worthy staycationers. Seeing first hand, the enormity of the work and the devotion to detail, involved in the creation of show gardens, only amplifies my already copious respect for the garden designers, contractors and their construction teams. Though, as focused as they all are, the atmosphere is tremendously friendly and supportive.

Despite being blinded by the vast number of enormous yellow JCBs, Diairmuid Gavin’s ‘Westland Magical Tower Garden’, is hard to ignore. The seven story structure, made from fancy black scaffolding with brassy fixings, towers twenty four meters (80ft) over the grounds. Never failing to produce the unexpected, Gavin’s latest creation is certainly commanding and startling, though admittedly slightly alien. Granted, it is early days, but one can’t help but wonder if the requisite for being habitually controversial has just taken over? Is this latest creation simply the result of the so dubbed ‘bad boy’ of garden design striving to satisfy (or amplify) that image and/or dominate Chelsea as he did last year? Despite being a firm admirer of Gavin’s work, and always game for novel and unpredictable garden design ideas, I am a tad skeptical as to this current creation. Hopefully though, come show time, he will prove me very wrong.

Doris in 'A Celebration of Caravanning' Garden - Jo Thompson
The Arthritis Research UK Garden - Thomas Hoblyn
Fancy Topiary in the Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden
M&G Garden - Andy Sturgeon
Unloading of precious cargo causing.....
Chelsea Traffic Jam
Could be a while....
Jo Thompson designer 'A Celebration of Caravanning' Garden
Doris' sparkly aluminum cladding
Stern Thompson Site Management
Not so stern at Joe Swift Homebase Garden....
Cleve West in railway orange hi-vis couture...
Pensive Sarah Price
Main Avenue
Pylon Pagoda?
Diairmuid Gavin - The Westland Magical Garden
Green Oasis on Building Site
The RBC Blue Water Garden
JCB envy
Future Chelsea Football Club Stadium?

Show Garden Planting: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 The Special Relationship: Chelsea Flower Show, Designer & Plantsman

any comments?

Comments: 17

  1. ahead of the gardens being finally finished here is a reminder of what they looked like last Saturday #rhschelsea http://t.co/lVxffJiJ

  2. Thanks for this update Petra, love all your photos. The work involved in building a show garden is amazing, I’m looking forward to seeing the results on Monday.

  3. Sneaky Preview RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 http://t.co/WjN3ELus

  4. Love the in-progress building shots. Seeing that tower clad in green will be something indeed!

  5. Hi Petra, Thanks for this tantalising taste of Chelsea. I can’t wait for the tv coverage to start. I have really felt for everyone working there with the dreadful weather. I agree about Diarmuid Gavin. I was just saying to Wellyman that it feels like he has set the bar high and he couldn’t just do a more normal garden, so his gardens become more extreme. However, saying that I have loved his previous gardens and Chelsea is about the ‘show’ element so good luck to him. I hope he creates something to wow us.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more. He does always have a knack at pulling it around. I really did like his 2011 creation, though admittedly would have liked to have seen it as intended from the pod. Hope this time, one can actually see his creation up ‘high’ and personal! [Hope Diairmuid is reading this….]

  6. Sneaky Preview RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 http://t.co/0T8Cd77F cant wait

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