Reader Panel - What was the biggest issue in the run-up to Chelsea this year?

HW asked a selection of exhibitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week what was the biggest issue they had to face to get ready in time for the event.

HEAD GARDENER

"Virtually no rain has fallen in the past two months. I work with the RHS and Kestrel Contractors and 99 per cent of the ground is put back as it was.

"We can reopen by mid June in most years. It's not just reinstatement but tree protection before the show and during the build-up.

"There seems no end to the dry spell. That puts pressure on exhibitors. The strict judges don't take conditions into account."

Ron Willmore, head gardener, Royal Hospital Chelsea

PLANT SUPPLIER

"For me, the wind is the biggest issue. It's more dangerous than the heat. Alliums and irises are fragile plants and are really taking a battering.

"It's been very difficult this year - the most difficult in the past 20 years.

"Four months ago we were sweeping snow off polytunnels and now it hasn't rained in two months, then the wind struck. We've had to do a lot of changing of plants."

Mark Fane, founder, Crocus

PLANT GROWER

"Things have gone over much quicker this year, because of the hot weather. We've had a lot of work to do filling in the gaps.

"Some plants we were planning to include have gone early, and there are others we would expect to see later that have arrived early, so we've redesigned.

"The lack of rain has also made it dusty, and we've had lots to do keeping the foliage dry so the dust can blow off, and making sure the plants stay watered."

Rosy Hardy, Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants

ALPINE GROWER

"The weather has been a real challenge and we've ended up changing lots of plants. Stock we were planning to include has passed and we've had to replace it with other things - for example, smaller plants that we were planning to sell.

"We've had to bring in a few plants but not many. People from London were calling us up asking whether we could supply them with plants, and we were on the phone to Inverness asking the same thing."

David Rankin, Kevock Garden Plants.


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