benches chelsea flower show

andy’s chelsea diary: update from the garden

We are two weeks into the build of the garden and everything is progressing calmly. The walls are now complete and we’ve had the opportunity to make use of a hidden resource here at Chelsea. Long before this was a showground, fishermen would haul their oyster boats off the bank of the Thames to this spot. If you dig down here, the soil is littered with discarded oyster shells. We have been saving up the shells we find, washing them and crushing them up to add to the render on the walls. The shell fragments create just a little bit of shimmer on the walls when they catch the sunlight. We always aim to make our gardens site-specific and making use of something that’s here in the ground is the perfect way to do that.

The water chutes created by Thea Thompson are also running now and the rough finish on the outside of the ceramic works really well with the finish on the walls while the glaze on the inside really does achieve a look that the water has been flowing here for years rather than hours. It’s no mean feat to get the water flowing evenly from all three spouts so well done to the construction team and Water Artisans for achieving this.


The benches carved by Johnny Woodford have been unwrapped and moved into place. They add another texture to the garden but also work really well with the planting to create contrasts and show intriguing shadows on their surfaces.

The last week of the build is all about the planting and we are working from the top of the garden down towards the front. We have finished one tiny area and although it’s been overcast for the past few days, the greens are looking fresh and optimistic. We did manage to catch a few ephemeral shadows being cast on the walls. We’re really hoping visitors to the show will catch some sunshine to see the magical patterns that the leaves create in the dappled light.