Time seems to be flying by and the Chelsea Flower Show is rapidly approaching, only six weeks to go, hard to believe it’s spring when there was snow on the ground outside my office window last week.
I briefly mentioned in my first post, that Andrew Wilson (half of the Wilson McWilliam partnership designing the garden) is also a judge for the R.H.S. at Chelsea and has been for the last sixteen years.
Andrew last exhibited in 1994 so why would he, after all this time, take the plunge and design a show garden? Well there are a number of reasons.
Last year the R.H.S. published their results of a review of the judging process, this followed numerous complaints from designers of show gardens in 2011 – a year in which Andrew acted as a moderator rather than an assessor and judge.
Amongst other things, the review process found that there was no conflict of interest in a designer judging in one exhibitor category and designing in another. Gavin and Andrew had often talked about designing a show garden together and now they had the green light to do just that.
Is there a conflict of interests in being both a judge and designing a show garden?
Andrew and Gavins’ garden is in the Fresh Gardens category, leaving Andrew free to judge the Show Garden category. Of course he may know the judges who assess his and Gavins’ garden, in the same way that he knows many of the designers whose gardens he judges.
In the small world of garden design it’s impossible to be a judge and not know many of the designers of show gardens. Over a period of 16 years it would be difficult, impractical and downright unfriendly to remain aloof from those who regularly exhibit.
Of course business interests are a different matter, and judges are required to declare any conflict of interest and step back from judging should such a situation arise.
Why would a judge design a garden?
“Judges inhabit the real world” Andrew says, ”they are not simply wheeled out from cold storage for each show. In the real world I am primarily a garden designer so my immediate reply is because that’s our job, it’s what we do. It also provides me with a detailed awareness of design and, in this case, show garden design – something that I think most exhibitors respect. I think this hands on experience is very relevant to being a judge.”
Meanwhile the meetings continue and all the practical elements are coming together.
The slender metal poles that support the pavillion roof, you can see them in the sketch at the top of the page and the detail below, have been refined to give a light feeling whilst doing there job structurally.
Details of the rammed earth walls and polished concrete are being signed off this week, more about this next week, and there’ll be talk about the plants for the garden.
images: Gavin McWilliam
sketches: Wilson McWillaim Studio.