Contractors merit more recognition at Chelsea

The RHS is "missing a trick" by not highlighting the role landscape contractors play in the Chelsea Flower Show, according to Association of Professional Landscapers president Mark Gregory.

Mark Gregory
Mark Gregory

As owner of landscape construction company Landform UK, Gregory has been to 26 RHS Chelsea Flower Shows. He has built numerous award-winning gardens at the show and has won three gold award for gardens he designed - in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The attention lavished on him when he designed gardens at Chelsea was "unbelievably mad" compared to the attention contractors receive, said Gregory.

"Chelsea is about this amazing team that comes together but instead it's always about the designer," he said. "The designer is incredibly important, and somebody's got to head that up and get the kudos, but if there was no landscaper there wouldn't be a Chelsea Flower Show."

He added: "They have this fantastically interesting programme they could make about this whole garden and how it comes together - the technicalities of building these things - but they're just flippant about it." Focusing on the garden's creation would show a different angle and could highlight to young people the many skills they could develop if they consider a landscaping career, he said.

Chelsea's top contractors should also be recognised in some way, said Gregory, and he is hopeful the message may be getting through. "I've heard there's talk of doing it because I think they're under pressure. I think it will happen next year - and it needs to." Next year Landform will build the Chelsea Barracks Garden designed by Jo Thompson and the Watahan East and West Garden designed by Chihori Shibayama and Tea Yano.

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