RHS Chelsea Flower Show is "mind-blowing" experience for Homebase apprentice

A trainee horticulturalist has described the experience of working on Adam Frost's RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden as a mind-blowing whirlwind.

Christine North at Adam Frost's RHS Chelsea garden on Wednesday
Christine North at Adam Frost's RHS Chelsea garden on Wednesday

Christine North, from Rochester in Kent, is one of 11 Homebase Garden Academy students who are helping build and plant the Time to Reflect in association with Alzheimer’s Society garden.

North, who was a full-time mother of three children before applying for the Homebase scheme, was only a keen amateur gardener when she got the place in November.

Now she works at Homebase’s Orpington store, studies for a RHS Level 1 qualification in horticulture, trains with visiting experts and is hoping for a career in landscaping and garden design.

"It’s a bit mind-blowing to be honest," she said. "I didn’t think I’d be one of 11 out of the whole country that’s here, the amount of people I’ve met, I’d definitely recommend it, I still have to pinch myself sometimes and say is this really happening to me."

Time to Reflect is based on some of Frost’s earliest memories, such as childhood camping trips, helping his grandfather in the garden and his father’s passion for water, stone and the countryside. It also focuses on the way that both visual and olfactory memories can help those with Alzheimer’s.

"I wanted to create a garden that encourages us to stop and spend quality time with each other," he said.

Building the garden, which was less complete than others on Main Avenue yesterday, was "pretty hectic" according to North. But she said Frost was "absolutely brilliant to work with".

As well as preparing for Chelsea he has been tutoring the Academy members on a monthly basis. Last year his show garden, for the same sponsors, won a gold medal.

"Adam’s so down to earth, he doesn’t bore you with all these long words. I had to travel up alone on my birthday to get here but it was worth it. I think this is going to be absolutely brilliant for my career, not many people can say they’ve taken part in the build and the show of Chelsea, it’s a fantastic opportunity."

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