Journal of a Gardener 27/08/2017

Shrewsbury Flower Show 2017 – Behind the Scenes
When the forms for Shrewsbury Flower Show arrived this year, we reserved a 4m x 4m square for our display, and decided on the title ‘A Magical Garden Party’.
We envisaged a small gathering of friends on hot a summer evening, hosted in a lush garden backing onto woodland.
Whether this vision arrived as a direct result of a blisteringly hot and dusty week at the plant centre, and a burning desire for a chilled glass of something alcoholic, who can say?
Within the display we decided to incorporate a water feature, trees, shrubs, and perennial plants, including, of course, some of our beautiful roses.
Whilst we had initially planned for a water feature comprising champagne bottles in an ice bucket on top of a garden table, as the event drew nearer we experienced technical difficulties which meant we had to abandon the idea. Instead we used a pre-assembled water feature comprising of a single tier barrel with pump, which could be placed at the back of the garden. So the moral to this story is, always have a Plan B!
Having changed our water feature, we decided that our centre piece should be the Acer ‘Crimson King’, which, as if by magic, appeared through the centre of our table, and was then hung with lanterns.
In order to achieve this effect, we had to sacrifice a table, cutting out a square large enough to put the pot through, and cutting this square in half to replace either side of the tree trunk. This was skilfully covered with a throw using a staple gun!
Additional trees were introduced to create structure in the beds. We used 2 x Acer Palmatum ‘Garnet’, which have a delicate and deep red foliage, complementing the Acer ‘Crimson King’, as well as 2 young Copper Beech.
Our choice of key plants was limited by which would be at their flowering peak in August. Within that group, we sought to reflect the colours of a summer sunset i.e. hot pinks, oranges and purples in the flowers, against a mix of dark but delicate foliage representing the encroaching night.
Our key flowers included Verbena Bonariensis, which gave additional height to the garden, and whose purple flowers on long stems swayed pleasingly in the breeze, Echinacea Purpurea Magnus, an irresistible sunset pink, and Summerina ‘Orange’, a hybrid of Rudbeckia and Echinacea, enjoying a show stopping abundance of blooms. 
For our roses we chose our red ‘Name Your Own’ floribunda, which has a tall and relatively narrow in habit for a floribunda. The red blooms contrasted beautifully with the Verbena Bonariensis. We also included 2 varying shades of pink floribundas, Free Spirit (a deep burnt pink) and Pretty Lady (a sugary pastel pink), and a deep purple patio rose, Diamond Eyes, which has a beautiful scent and was the star of the show. Roses are often in-between flushes in August, but these varieties offered a good number of flowers and buds.
Shrubs were worked into all corners of the garden to bulk out the beds, and provide contrast and forms of foliage. We used Euonymus ‘Green Rocket’ for its sparse but striking form, comprising of several individual upright stems with leaves of deep green at the bottom and bright green at the tip. Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’ for its pleasingly rounded leaves and shape and Nandina ‘Firepower’ for its fabulous green, orange and red foliage.
Swiped off a delivery at the last minute were some absolutely stunning metal peacock garden ornaments designated for the shop, which were just too magical to resist!
For our edging, as the display would be a raised bed, we eventually, after many hours of research, decided upon Willow hurdles, which were dark and discreet, as per our foliage, and in-keeping with the idea of a bordering woodland.
The week before the show we installed our hurdles and created a mock garden, arranging and re-arranging our potted plants at ground level in the garden until we were satisfied.  Comprehensive photographs were taken before the garden was disassembled, in order to assist in a quick and easy recreation recreation at the show. At the end of the week the garden was disassembled and loaded into the vans for delivery at Shrewsbury Flower Show.
It took 3 days to re-assemble the garden, subject to some tweaks. The greatest problem we encountered was the dry compacted ground. Fellow entrants, The Alpine Plant Society, were kind enough to lend us a spike and a sledge hammer to create holes to insert our hurdles into! Once the hurdles were in we filled the beds with bark, dug in and labelled our plants, installed and dressed the table.
After months of hard work and fretting we were absolutely over the moon to be awarded a gold medal!
All plants have now returned to our plant centre and are on sale. Our metal peacocks, ‘Diamond Eyes’ patio rose, and even some of our last minute ‘filler’ plants Lysimachia clethroides ‘and Salvia ‘Dyson’s Joy’ have proved to be particular favourites with our customers.
The show garden has now been re-installed on a slightly smaller scale at the plant centre. Shade loving and half hardy plants have been replaced, whilst staying true to the colour scheme. The table and chairs (tree stumps!) have been replaced with a more accessible stone bench for you to sit and enjoy the garden.
Posted in News and Events.