Rather belatedly I report on my reflections of helping to assemble the display for this year’s display. Firstly, we were at a disadvantage at having a larger than normal circular stand. Last autumn we had a 3m circular stand (area 7m2, circumference 9.4m), but this time we had a 3.5m circular stand (area 9.6m2, circumference 11m). That meant we needed a lot of plants!
We decided to build a path feature across the stand and had a central urn underplanted with Beesia calthifolia. There were some choice pieces of old wood which enhanced the planting scheme.
We were able to deliver many of the plants on the Monday evening but the main work took place on Tuesday with an early start @ 8am, working almost non-stop until 6pm. The team completed the central area (about 3m2 ) before the end of the day. What we had not calculated was that in the 6 hours allowed on Wednesday we still had nearly a half of the display to put together, the challenge being to arrange enough plants around the circumference. We over-run but the judges let us finish.
We had over one hundred plant species and Sue Gary, our chairman was kept busy labelling the plants. Despite her endeavours a few were missed before judging, but this was rectified by the time the show opened on Thursday. Pat Inman, our show leader was busy advising on plant placement and rushing off to buy more plants as we didn’t have enough to fill the space.
The weather had not been good in the run-up to the show. We had had a long cold spell followed by a short spell of hot weather. Many of the plants were struggling. Members were very generous in lending plants.
The filling in was slightly easier as the stand was shallow and we again used bark, although the original intention was to use moss. We were loaned a quantity of moss but were not convinced that there would be enough, hence the change in plan. I am a keen walker and used to going over stiles, but getting on and off the stand became more difficult as the day went by. We managed to borrow a step ladder from the Alpine Society, but when they went home early (there were 20 people on the stand placing the pots) it was down to using a chair; being conscious of health and safety, I asked one of the team to hold the chair and lend me a shoulder to steady myself.
We managed to achieve a display that allowed views through the plants from different angles. Rob Hardy, of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, came by on a couple of occasions and complimented us on our efforts. We followed his advice on placing the labels a little lower in the plants.
The team (Brian, John, Joyce, Pat on Tuesday) and Robbie who stepped in at the last minute on Wednesday, were kept busy. At the last committee meeting we agreed that we needed more help on both days; there is the hard graft of building the display, but the labelling and ‘titivating’ of the plants is also key to our success.
When I left on Wednesday afternoon I was ‘fit to drop’ as were the rest of the team. The team’s efforts were rewarded by being awarded a Silver Gilt, and given the size of the display and the time allowed to assemble it, that was quite an achievement (the group has had previous displays at Chelsea RHS show and had longer to put them together).
When I arrived on Sunday to do my stint at stewarding I was impressed by our display; the plants looked so much better and the overall appearance on approaching the stand made all our efforts worthwhile. Those who came by the stand admired the display and the plants.
Then came the breakdown. The team of five Sue, Peter, Kate, Judy and myself worked hard for 3 hours to disassemble the display, and ensure that the plants were returned to their rightful owners. Lesson learnt: more help required!
Personally, I learn so much about the plants, and enjoy being part of the team. We will be at the Autumn Show this year but with a smaller display.
Web Manager West Yorkshire Hardy Plant Society Group