Selecting materials for the Chelsea show garden
This time next month the Chelsea Flower Show will be in full swing, meanwhile things are moving on briskly for Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliams as they sign off materials ready for their show garden.
Garden projects often get delayed for a number of reasons, but one of the challenges of a Chelsea show garden is that, no matter what glitches there have been in the process or what the weather has been like, it all has to be ready by Sunday 19th May.
With this in mind, Andrew and Gavin have allowed plenty of time for any hold-ups, and have developed and refined their ideas for all of the materials being used in the garden, until they’re completely satisfied with the results.
They’re using some interesting materials to enhance the character of the garden, whilst maintaining their concept of simplicity, quality and elegance.
Much of the garden needs to be constructed off site with the main units brought in to the show ground already complete. The first of the rammed earth walls have been created and the quality, colour and character assessed and approved. This is an exciting time for the team, both designers and contractor, as once approved the rest of the walls will be constructed and remain within their formwork, unveiled only once in place at the show.
Rammed earth walls not only provide a back-drop to the garden but also a sense of enclosure. The walls comprise different layers creating strata and have been influenced by the landscape of the Cloudy Bay area of New Zealand.
Rex Holloway is part of the contracting team responsible for the walls and the steel fabrication that will support the copper rods. His experience is being applied to the finishing and distressing of the rods to create their weathered character for the show.
The slender copper rods support the roof and provide some of the vertical emphasis in the garden.
The other ambitious element is the 2.5 tonne polished concrete slab which forms the centre piece of the garden. The complexity of construction of this single piece complete with a 1.5m cantilever lies in the reinforcement and in the method of containment for the pour. The slab needs to withstand lifting and transportation before needing to take regular use through the show itself. Cliff Hook of Polished Concrete Designs Ltd is bringing his experience to bear on the construction and finishing of the slab with the final colour and aggregate mix now agreed.
Gabbro boulders are being used to emerge from the stream banks and to form backdrops to the planting in the main body of the garden. CED Ltd has sourced the boulders which have now been crated up ready to be transported to Chelsea.
Gavin and Andrew also visited a quarry in Essex this week to approve the ‘black and tan’ gravel that will flow through the garden and provide a backdrop for the plants. The gravel also references the characteristics of the Wairu River in New Zealand where the Cloudy Bay vineyard was established.
It’s all coming together nicely, we’ll see how things are progressing next week with under 3 weeks to go.
Last weeks post was all about the plants, catch up here if you missed it.
images: Gavin McWilliam
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