Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The garden takes shape

Day 10
The black-out roof arrives, but later needs to be changed. Ray and Chris Carter work on the pergola, RheaParkes arrives with plants from Robin Pearce. Nicotiana and Night scented stock grown by Wood Green School arrives on site.

Day 11
10 Silver Birches arrive from Nicholsons in Oxfordshire and some fantastic oak panels from Quercus.

An articulated lorry arrives with plants from Earlswood Plants in Solihull.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The build continues...

Day 7
Layout of the garden is tested and steamer chairs are mimicked by camping chairs and footrest is board.

Paramount Paving extends the piers made from Brett Landscaping’s Fossil Mint Sandstone and uses black grouting on the pool to make it invisible in the dark.

End of the day...

Day 8
Finnforest arrives on site and has started to install the Grassedeck (deck boards with artificial turf inlay).

The piers are finished and the pool is framed by Polished Fossil Mint Sandstone.

The RHS has approved the silver birches, which are too tall to be used inside the marquee, to be used to decorate the outside.

Day 9
The last day for Paramount Paving. They have been a dream team to work with and they have done a fantastic job making the garden a proud display of Brett Landscaping products. I hope the quality of the rest of the garden can match their immaculate precision and quality.

The quality of work is stunning! Even down to the cleaning of the pool and the grouting of the coping stones on top of the piers. Pier coping is specially made on site, and cut and put together from three slabs. Amazing skill.

Careful cleaning up of the entrance after finishing work. I hope to get the chance to work with this team again.

The Finnforest team works hard on the public walkway.

Chris and Ray Carter work hard on getting the heavy green oak pergola put together.

The stars at Wood Green School

Pupils at Wood Green School of Witney are helping with the garden by growing annuals and painting stars.

Entering the school ground at Wood Green School you feel like you are entering a lovely prosperous garden. It’s a delight to walk around the lawns and see the varieties of planting themes and colours throughout the year, which children, staff and visitors can all enjoy.

The first coat of paint on the stars is drying.

The finished stars will be mounted on the 9m long curved Quercus fence by the entrance to the garden.

Students are also potting Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’ for evening scent in the night garden.

The build continues and the garden takes shape

The continuing diary of the build and installation of the Cube Lighting garden.

Day 5
Our Brett Approved Installer - Paramount Paving - arrived as the show ground opened and set to work, all six of them. Andy with two colleagues from Finnforest came to assess the site.

Plants arrived from Nicholson’s nursery in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately, our large elms which were to go outside the garden were too tall for the carrier and had to be exchanged for oaks, but they are lovely.

Among these were 25 Ilex crenata balls 55cm wide.

Chris and Ray Carter worked hard on getting the back wall up.

Then came Danco and set up the last part of the large marquee. At last we have a full roof.

We have been promised water on site tomorrow, which will be brilliant.

Day 6
Another day with great progress.

The pool which was concreted yesterday got its shuttering removed and was filled. The piers were started and all six are halfway built and are drying ready for the top part to be laid. There are other various painting jobs being completed, and the team has levelled the entrance area and completed the back wall.

Even in this light you can see some reflection.

Outside the scalloped beds nearly finished.

Cube Lighting came to visit and took part in the build.

People were working in all areas of the garden.

Yesterday this beautifully laid polished sandstone patio, donated by Brett Landscaping, was built and it will be grouted tomorrow.

The pergola, which we brought down from Eynsham Sawmill, got partly pleached yesterday (stains from the saw blade) and this job will continue tomorrow.

I’m really pleased with progress so far. I can see the garden starting to take shape even at this very early stage, which is wonderful after all the months of planning.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The build starts...

As promised in my last blog, here is a diary of the actual build and installation of the Cube Lighting garden.

We are allowed entrance to the site Monday 13th at noon.

The main garden is 180m2, but with this being a night garden we have an additional 100m2 around the main marquee and only three weeks for it to become an amazing feature.

We start by emptying the van, laying out the design, setting up the levels, and the digger has arrived ready to start the excavation.

Ray Carter spends all his time on the digger, whilst I am ‘rendering’ what are to be the back walls. First coat is a sand and paint mix applied with a brush, when nearly dry ragged over to get the brush strokes away – not something which can be done in a real garden, but it saves much time and money when it is only to last a few week in an indoor environment.

High visibility vest and steel cap boots are obligatory at all times during build up.

By the evening Ray has really made an impact on the garden. The garden was stripped of turf and all excavated material taken away. Danco had started to set up the main marquee.

Project manager Jon Mathias from Brett Landscaping joins us on site to make sure all deliveries are absolutely perfect. Once the Brett paving was all sorted for both our garden and the LOROS garden across the avenue, Jon stayed the rest of the day with us and kept us company and lent a hand  – Thank you Jon.

When we leave that evening the garden is surrounded by bags of stone, granite mulch, cement, piles of bricks and slabs of various colours and there is still more stone to come.

A level site and a big hole for the pool, but still far to go before it becomes a garden. And all of the Hampton Court ground still looks fairly empty with less than three weeks to the show.

12 panels were made and painted.


Fencing posts ready-sanded and routered pre-show and were painted.


We had an early finish 7.30 - 4pm as we were travelling home.

Ray arrives with a full load and added a few more items from the garage.


Picked up the pergola and oak panels on the way back to Hampton Court and visited a couple of nurseries which are providing some of our plants. A lot of rain had fallen throughout the day and all the gardens are wet and the soil was slightly sticky attaching to boots and tools. We were very pleased to get two thirds of our roof in the late afternoon. We have been promised the last part tomorrow.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Nearly everything in place for RHS RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

With less than four weeks to go until the show, my work now concentrates on looking after those plants I have grown from seeds, but also importantly scheduling and arranging the delivery of the garden components, plants and the installation which starts at midday on Monday 13th June.

The Cube Lighting garden will be a Show Feature at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show rather than a Show Garden. In other words, the garden won’t be eligible to win any awards. I originally applied to submit a Show Garden, but the Cube Lighting garden is so unique that it sat outside the criteria for judging.

This garden is so different to anything I’ve ever done previously and has been very difficult to design. Nothing can stop light except a solid wall which prevents viewing of the garden. As the garden is inside a marquee there are height restrictions and light will be bouncing off surfaces. It’s very exciting.
The garden will be basically installed from scratch at the show. In the past I have been able to ‘pre-pack’ my garden and have stored gardens components in my garage ready for installation. But this year my partners and suppliers will need to deliver components and install them at the site.

Fortunately I will have lots of expert help and I expect this is going to be a fun but exhausting four weeks. I have two key installers partners, Ray Carter Landscapes of Abingdon are my main installers, with Paramount Paving of Swanley, Kent looking after the polished sandstone hard landscaping, which has been donated by Brett Landscaping. Paramount Paving are Brett Approved Installers and are really excellent.

Finnforest are helping with the public walkway which will be deck boards inlayed with artificial turf. This makes a good temporary but hard-wearing, non-slip pathway which should perform throughout the week, no matter what the weather throws at us. S3i will help with the public stainless steel fence and Chris from Easy Life Ground Maintenance will support and help Ray in his task of getting everything ready so everyone has space to work efficiently in time for the show.

There are many other elements to the garden which need to be scheduled. The lighting will of course be supplied by Cube Lighting, my main sponsor. We are using low energy LED lighting which will not scorch plants like traditional garden lighting can. In total, we are using only 607 watts for the entire garden. I’m hoping that visitors appreciate what can be achieved with low energy lighting and will think about what they can do to enjoy their own gardens after dark.

I will post another update soon so call back in a few days.