Pre-fabs the order of the day at Chelsea

Increased spending and a relaxed atmosphere to ensure that this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be memorable.

Alston Natural Stone supplied 50 tonnes of sandstone - image: CFS
Alston Natural Stone supplied 50 tonnes of sandstone - image: CFS

More pre-fabrication of buildings and features for Chelsea Flower Show gardens has led to one of the most peaceful build-ups of recent times, say landscapers.

Rosebank Landscapes designer Matt Keightley, who has designed the Sentebale garden at this year's show, which starts on 19 May, said: "I've noticed a lot of pre-fab at this stage of the build. Not many are flapping with construction and people moved into planting. The lack of machinery makes the feeling more relaxed."

Keightley said he hopes Sentebale charity founder Prince Harry will attend, adding that the Prince had shown a particular interest in the stonework at the Chelsea garden, which replicates stonework he helped build at the Sentebale children's centre in Lesotho. Alston Natural Stone supplied 50 tonnes of sandstone.

Outdoor Room managing director David Dodd, building the Spirit of Islam garden, said the garden quality has surpassed itself at this year's show and the atmosphere was "uncannily relaxed" after early wind issues.

Spending on gardens appears to be up. The Islam garden cost £300,000 with £55,000 on carrera marble and four £10,000 bismarckias, that will be donated to Wisley post-show.

The Cloudy Bay garden will cost £180,000 with a quarter going on a track to move a shack around the plot. Dan Pearson said of being 4/1 best in show winner favourite, "you've got to put these things out of your head" to concentrate on the build.

Pearson has also finalised this week a planting plan and pictures of his £175m Garden Bridge project across the Thames.

Viking Cruises designer Alan Gardner said he was using British growers Hillier and Hardys Cottage Garden Plants.

The winner of this week's BBC2 competition Great Chelsea Garden Challenge on main avenue was developing and features a large MDF house front and rusty tin can planters.

UK grown - 'Waitrose supportive'

NFU president Meurig Raymond said of the NFU's non-appearance at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the first time in half a century as part of the UK Horticulture best of British-grown exhibit: "It was a decision made by Waitrose not to attend.

"If we could collaborate with another sponsor we'd be delighted."

He said that Waitrose were generally supportive of UK grown and he would not criticise their "commercial decision" to withdraw from Chelsea.

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