3 minutes reading time (535 words)

Chelsea Flower Show 2023

Well, that zipped by with lightening speed!

It seems like yesterday that Edo, my wonderfully hard-working and resourceful nephew, and I arrived at my designated spot on Main Avenue on a blustery April morning together with crates and crates of nuts, bolts, paint, tools and remnants of a previous decade's worth of Chelsea Flower Show builds.

We were given 3 weeks to set-up my 105 square metre stand on one of the most prominent pieces of real estate on Main Avenue, opposite the best of the show gardens.

When I talk of "We" I refer to a 12 man team of experts and professionals that have discoursed over the better part of 6 months via WhatsApp and hundreds of emails of mechanical drawings, table napkin sketches and half crazed ideas of dubious worth to fine tune the plans for James Doran-Webb's Chelsea Flower Show 2023! Here is my sketch of what we hoped to achieve:

By the 3rd day we had erected 3 tons of back wall structure and installed 7 tons of Wyvern, just in time to brave midnight thunderstorms the like of which had not been seen in years! We arrived on the stand the following morning to find that we were standing in 30cms of muddy storm water which was not going anywhere. Anyone who has experienced digging in the Royal Hospital gardens will tell you that the soil is rock solid and impervious. Our expensive Italian water feature pumps were put to good purpose draining the lot and by the afternoon work continued.

The days progressed to the rhythm of our 20 page Work Method Statement as lorry after lorry arrived with plants, sculptures, materials and equipment, pathways were laid, jasmine bushes dug in, electrics installed and sculptures erected. Towards the end of the 3 week build, heavy works gave way to the gentler business of dead heading and titivating and the team disbanded one by one to leave the core, Edo, Lee our master planter and myself.

Before one could say Jack Robinson, the last build day was upon us and I was queuing to collect the Private View pass and the Gala Passes that would allow my wife, my life long friend Matthew Upham and myself to enjoy a wonderfully balmy Monday Gala evening.

By all accounts, the stand looked fantastic, all those who contributed to the effort, Edo, Lee, Jordan, Ben, David and Bish did a sterling job for which they should all be proud. I received my 8th consecutive 5 star award!

Tuesday morning saw the arrival of another good friend, Les Stringer, who has taken shots of my Chelsea Flower Show builds since 2017. As I leave you with his shots, I can confide that my stand for 2024 is well underway and promises to be the most dramatic and exciting presentation yet! Onwards and upwards!

The Flight of the Wyvern

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