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Wagons are Rolling to Chelsea Flower Show

Posted 3 May 2007

Jan Haycock showing the team the stock that will be going to Chelsea

Shropshire-based Harper Adams University College is proud to be part of an exciting venture that will take it to the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show this month. Staff at Harper Adams have been working in partnership with Telford & Wrekin Council to prepare an award-winning Show Garden.


Over the Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 5th to Monday 7th May) Mark Hall, Grounds Manager and Senior Glasshouse Technician,  Jan Haycox will be co-ordinating the delicate job of loading and transporting of some of the larger plants, including  silver birch and field maple trees and hawthorn and hazel hedging plants that have been grown at the University College. They will be carefully strapped in to two articulated lorries and driven to the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, where the five-day annual show is held.


Jan and Mark have been working in close collaboration with the garden’s designers, Telford and Wrekin Council Officers Michael Vout and Chris Jones. Each of the principal plants have been painstakingly numbered to help them recreate the garden to the exact specifications of the designers’ plan. Jan said “It is extremely important to number the principal plants. Once the design has been submitted and accepted, we cannot deviate from it. It is a huge operation and will take a week to transport the plants, get them bedded in and make sure everything is absolutely perfect for the judges.”

THE TRANSPORTATION:
Jan and Mark came up with the clever idea of planting the root balled trees on pallets so that they can easily be lifted from the ground, causing minimum damage. They then have to ensure that the trees that are up to four metres high are suspended and strapped into the lorries.


THE GARDEN:
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s birth, one of the nation’s greatest engineers, Telford and Wrekin Council have been working with sponsors, building contractors and horticultural experts, including staff at the University College, to create the Thomas Telford Toll House Garden. It is one of only 19 show garden entries this year and has been inspired by the tollhouses Telford created along the road from London to Holyhead. An example can be seen at the local Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge, where a replica is being made for the Show Garden.

Mark and Jan began working on the project last year. They researched and sourced authentic seeds of the 1830’s and then painstakingly nurtured and grew the plants using traditional methods. It was extremely important to reproduce the exact variety that would have been grown in the 1830’s instead of buying seed from any garden centre because these would have been hybrid plants. The garden will include more than 60 vegetables and herbs grown at Harper Adams, from beetroot and cabbage to lesser known plants, such as cardoon and skirret, which were extremely popular with the Victorians.


The garden will be seen by royalty, national and international garden experts and thousands of visitors, and will be the subject of television broadcasts to countries around the world. Staff and students from Harper Adams are looking forward to seeing the fruits of Mark and Jan’s labour and – hopefully – to bringing home another trophy.


THE SHOW:
Every year, for five days in May, the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, are transformed into the fabulous show gardens, inspirational small gardens and vibrant horticultural displays that make up the world’s most famous flower show. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show showcases the finest examples of horticultural excellence, created by the best garden designers, plantsmen and plantswomen. Facts and figures for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show can be viewed at http://www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea/2007/showinfo/factsheet.asp

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