Some of you may or may not be aware that this week is the start of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This year I have been lucky enough to get involved with the setting up work, and see what goes on behind-the-scenes before the show is opened to the public.
A friend from Eden put me in touch with HW Hyde and Son, they are a family-run nursery who specialise in lilies. I never knew you could get so many different species and cultivars of lilies!
The Hydes are so knowledgeable and skilled at what they do, check out their website: http://www.hwhyde.co.uk. The photos of lilies are fabulous, there’s great growing advice there too.
The Hydes don’t put together a show garden, they arrange a floral exhibit in the Great Pavilion and have done at Chelsea for years. They have nine Gold medals to their name, fingers crossed this year will be number ten!
When I arrived at Chelsea I couldn’t believe my eyes, the place was literally like a building site! People in hi-viz clothing were dodging round lorries and JCB’s, there were plants everywhere, stepladders in pathways. . . it was insane! I even saw someone hoovering round their show garden, if that’s not perfection then I don’t know what is!
It was totally different to seeing it on TV, the whole place is much smaller than I imagined. Mind you it was pretty claustrophobic with so much going on!
Even though you could sense how stressed everyone was the vibe was still amazing. The pressure of getting exhibits and gardens immaculate was obvious, those little finishing touches are the difference to winning a medal or not.
The Hydes Lily Exhibit
This is where we were in the Great Pavilion!
I had a fantastic time helping the Hydes set up their exhibit, they are lovely people with a great sense of humour – an essential at Chelsea, a bit of banter lifts the mood instantly! I helped unload the lilies from the lorry, some were towering above me at 7 foot high – I was terrified of dropping them!
Me rocking the hi-viz!
The lilies are displayed in big beds, with fake fencing around the beds. Once the lilies were in position I was touching up the paintwork by hand, making sure it looked pristine. I also spread ornamental bark around the lilies, to make it look extra smart. There were five beds in total and we finished three in one day. Not bad going!
More lily close-ups
As a thank-you for helping out the Hydes gave me three free passes into Chelsea on Saturday. It was a wonderful surprise for my parents who I will be taking with me, neither of them have been to Chelsea before.
I’m also going in the week too, at work we arranged to go before I even knew I would be helping set up. I’ve gone from never going to Chelsea before to being there three times in one week – an incredible first time experience!
A double lily
I’m really looking forward to seeing the exhibits and gardens finished, instead of how it looked during the setting up process. Watch this space for more of Chelsea! 🙂