Video /Gallery: On show at Chelsea Flower show, but made in Suffolk
Chelsea Flower Show - it’s the place to see and be seen this week. And our region is well represented at the show. JAMES MARSTON reports.
Chelsea Flower Show - it’s one of the highlights of the gardening year. It is a showcase for the British horticultural industry, which leads the world when it comes to gardening, and our region is out in force at the 2014 show.
From garden machinery to fuchsias, from seeds to nurseries, from bee keeping equipment to funky garden ornaments – Suffolk and Essex traders and gardeners and horticulturists are making their mark on the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship event.
In the Great Pavilion – a huge marquee full of blooms and stunning displays - Roger Harvey, of Thurston-based Harveys Garden Plants, proudly shows off his display of plants selected because they like shade and semi-shade.
The display includes hostas, Japanese Maple and erythronium to name a few.
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He said: “This is our tenth year at Chelsea. And it’s a team effort. There’s a lot of hard work and planning but we are very pleased with the result. All the plants we have on display can be used by people in their own gardens.”
While the celebrities - and there were a lot there on Press Day - might quaff the champagne and soak up the publicity, Mike Clare of Potash Nursery in Bacton talks serious about his fuchsia display.
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He said: “Chelsea is great for raising public awareness about our nursery and our work. Even people who don’t come to flower shows have heard of Chelsea, it is the biggest event of the year in the gardening calendar.”
Mike said the 45 or so fuchsia display is a fraction of the thousands of varieties he grows for customers. The display took about 15 hours to build.
He added: “I’ve grown fuchsias before we bought the nursery back in 1999 so I have always liked them. There is such a variety of colours and sizes.”
Garden machinery firm Bosch is using Chelsea to launch new products and showcase some of its product range.
The company designs and makes many of its garden products at its plant in Stowmarket.
Joao Barufi said the company chooses Chelsea year after year – and it’s a commercial event as Bosch has brought along several of its lawnmowers as well as an upgraded edging/shaping tool.
He said: “This year we are launching an upgraded version of our Isio edging and shaping tool. It is very light and easy to use.”
The firm has even employed a Marilyn Monroe look-alike to launch its new ALB 36 LI leaf blower – a publicity stunt that attracts quite a bit of attention.
Harrod Horticultural – a Lowestoft-based family business – also has a trade stand at the show.
The firm makes a range of garden structures including arches, gazebos and greenhouses.
Surrounded by immaculately trimmed box hedges bought especially for the show, Alex Rocke, a product designer for the firm is in celebratory mood.
He said: “This year the firm is 60 years old and we have also won product of the year here at Chelsea for our storm proof vegetable cage so we have a double celebration. Chelsea is the pinnacle of gardening in the world.”
As Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson recite poetry in one of the immaculate show gardens, Suffolk couple Julian and Tracey Ives of Hartest-based firm Dragonfli are preparing their stand for the day’s customers in the Main Avenue.
Julian said: “We set up about five years ago and we supply live bumble bees and bee hives and otehr accessories to gardeners. We also sell wildlife products.”
The stall has its own “Bumblearium” – a few bees busying themselves in a patch of wild flowers – and it’s already attracting attention.
Julian added: “I think people have been quite concerned about the decline of bees and there is a real interest in encouraging bees among the gardening public. Our sales have trebled in the last year. People like to think they are helping wildlife as well as enjoying watching the colonies develop.”
Kentford-based seed firm Mr Fothergill’s is also found on the Main Avenue.
Commercial director Tim Jeffries said the trade stand is selling the firm’s popular Victoria Cross poppy seed packets which are also raising money for the hosts of the show – the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the famous red-coated Chelsea pensioners.
Tim added: “We donate 25p from every packet sold to the hospital. We started back in February and sales have been amazing. We thought we might raise about £5,000 but so far we have raised £25,000. We are absolutely delighted.”
And away from the dazzling show gardens, Earls Colne businesswoman Tricia Robinson is gearing up for a successful week for her firm Patio and Terrace.
She said: “We come to Chelsea to sell our products which are quirky garden ornaments and garden accessories.
“Coming to the show gives people a chance to get to know our products and buy from our stall. It is hard work as we have to replenish stock every day. People don’t want to see a depleted stand.”
And her best selling product?
An ornamental ladybird for £4– and Tricia expects to sell more than a thousand in the coming days.
Other exhibitors include Clacton-based strawberry grower Ken Muir Ltd, Garden Art and Design of Boxsted and Italian Terrace of Rede.