Jo Thompson's blog - 8th June

Jo Thompson's blog - 8th June

The British weather has not been kind to us this week.  After a perfect build in glorious May sunshine, the show opened to gale force winds and driving rain, forcing the RHS to close the gates early on the first day for fear of exhibits taking off across the showground.

Thankfully we finished planting just before the weather turned on Monday and I’m pleased to say that, despite the battering they’ve received since, the plants have fared well.  I was very worried driving to the showground on Wednesday about what I might find when I got there, but even the trees, which would normally have been planted 20cm deeper but which were restricted by the archaeology of the estate, have withstood the gales.

Often at RHS shows, plants are put into the soil in pots, but I decided to plant the Brewin Dolphin Garden just as I would a real garden, planting directly into the ground.  This has given them a good anchor and because planting is low and in layers, the plants are doing a good job of supporting each other.  Even the delicate verticals, including the beautiful poppies, are faring remarkably well.

In true British style, visitors to the show seem to be showing the same grit as the plants.  As the weather has continued unabashed, the showground has been packed and the response from everyone visiting the garden has been wonderful.  My hope was always that the Brewin Dolphin Garden would fit into the beautiful landscape of the Chatsworth Estate and I’ve had several visitors ask if we planted it around existing trees.  It’s lovely to know that the trees I chose so carefully, and which I hoped would look natural in the setting, have done their job!  At the last minute we also decided to allow visitors to walk right up to the garden, rather than roping it off in the way the RHS do with show gardens at Chelsea, so people have been able to feel as though they are actually in the garden, getting a real sense of the colours and fragrances and enjoying being amongst the many beautiful plants.

At the end of the show, we’ll be selling many of the plants off and visitors will have the chance to take a little bit of RHS Chatsworth back to their own gardens.  Proceeds will go to supporting Horatio’s Garden, a wonderful charity that creates gardens for patients in NHS spinal injury units.  It’s lovely to think that all the hard work that has gone into creating the garden will benefit such a worthwhile cause.

So the first RHS Chatsworth is drawing to a close.  Notwithstanding the weather, it’s been a wonderful experience, not least because of the wonderful support I’ve had from Brewin Dolphin.  I’ve already got ideas for more gardens within the spectacular setting...