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Hardy Plant Society - Worcester Group

One of the centrepieces at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show will be a rotating garden created by a local gardening group. The Worcestershire Group of the Hardy Plant Society is busy growing hundreds of plants and developing the technology needed to create this unique display. Their vice-chairman Mick Dunstan tells us more.

very other year The Hardy Plant Society is given space for a stand at Chelsea. Last year our national organisation invited the 42 county groups to put forward bids to represent us and we were chosen.

At that stage we had a fairly basic idea, but knew we wanted to create something that really stood out. We never imagined we might be chosen, especially in this, the Society’s sixtieth anniversary year!

Our revolving display will be three metres in diameter and the garden’s designer is Linda Marsh who is one of our members. After a successful career as a pilot, Linda re-trained in garden design and has previously exhibited at Hampton Court. Her knowledge is legendary and she is developing a theme which uses strong colours and 60 different kinds of plants to mark the society’s 60th anniversary year.

Timing is of the essence when growing plants for Chelsea – they have to be at their prime just as the show starts. Hundreds of plants are already being grown under cover at Cotswold Garden Growers near Offenham. Our members are tending the plants regularly and will make a final decision in April about what makes it into the display.

The rotating structure is being built by Caleb Whitcombe, an engineering consultant. In his workshop, he’s building and then testing the structure by loading it with sandbags before running it continuously for seven days. Rotating trees were used last year in a garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin, but this will be the first time there’s been a complete exhibit at Chelsea that revolves continuously.

It will be a big job to transport and set up the garden. The rotating structure is taken to Chelsea on the Tuesday and assembled in the Great Pavilion. Planting begins on the Thursday. Our team then has just four days to make it look as fantastic as possible in time for judging on Monday 22nd May. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan!

Our local group has been around for a little more than twenty years and we hold meetings once a month at Crowle Parish Hall. We have regular speakers and organise other events including a trip to Devon later this year. In September we hold a full day of talks at Pershore College. Our speakers this year include Roy Lancaster, who is President of the Society as well as Derry Watkins who writes in The Telegraph and Julian Sutton from Desirable Plants, a specialist nursery in Devon.

We currently have 101 members and always welcome more. If you’d like further details, please contact the group’s secretary Lyn Maile at sec@worcs-hardy-plant.org.uk or on 01905 820267