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Final preparations for Chelsea


by Jekka McVicar

The final build up to the Chelsea Flower Show has started. It's become something of a tradition to open the herb farm to the public the weekend before Chelsea.


Herbs growing at Jekka's Herb Farm.The final build up to the Chelsea Flower Show has started. It's become something of a tradition to open the herb farm to the public the weekend before Chelsea. Visitors who aren't going to the show can see the display plants and it's a great boost to hear compliments about our stock.

There are long lists of things to double-check as we make sure the right plants are going to the right gardens. Many hours will be spent deadheading flowers and removing any dead or damaged leaves from the plants. We're also liaising with the designers as to when they want their plants delivered - some want them on Sunday or Monday, a week before judging. A few want theirs on Thursday, which is after we're on site.

Yet again the weather is playing havoc; the temperatures have reached 23ºC in the day and fall to 13ºC at night. Sudden high temperatures after a long period of cold have caused many plants to grow very fast, which leads to wilting. The wonderful Angelica archangelica was the first to succumb with the comfrey (Symphytum officinale), following closely behind. They're now all in the shade tunnel.

The combination of sun, heat rain and wind is a nightmare. If we leave the herbs in full flower outside, they'll be damaged, but if we bring them in they can become stretched or lose their flowers. It's a continual balancing act - I've actually been known, during these final few days, to rush out in the middle of the night to move plants if I hear the wind or rain.

Joanna Migdal putting the final touches to the hare sundial to be displayed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2008.The hare sundial, created by Joanna Migdal and Jeremy James, is back from the foundry and is undergoing his final preparations. Later this week he'll come to the farm and I'll mock up the display around him. It's inspirational to see him nearly finished.



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Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:31

Good luck, this weather was definitely sent to try us,just like slugs,snails,greenfly,whitefly etc for those, dull days do not exist, ever more the optimist.I often say this to myself it was on a gardeners thermometer I bought for my dad 35 years or more ago anyway good luck again.