The Chelsea Flower Show, which this year ran from the 23rd to the 27th May, is a celebrated event from the Royal Horticultural Society that sees some of the world’s best and most creative gardeners exhibiting their talents before a panel of judges. All of the gardens are assembled for the event in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, but how do the teams move and assemble them successfully?
The gardens at the flower show can sometimes be of a rather large size, and can include masonry, furniture, glasswork and other ornamental sculptures among the various plants. As a result, they often require large teams and heavy machinery including cranes and trucks to transport and place many parts of the garden. It’s a huge logistical operation that requires immense precision and care. Nothing can be damaged and every plant and pebble must be protected in all stages of their journey. After sometimes decades of preparation and growth, damage at the final moment would be a disaster.
Moving a garden for temporary placement, such as for the Flower Show, however, doesn’t provide much of an issue in terms of the type of plants are moved. However, for a more permanent move, such as in a house move, the new location needs to be suited to the types of plants that are to be transplanted, depending on the soil type, how much sun or shade is available and how much shelter or supply of moisture and wind there also is. Sometimes, there can even be other considerations, such as weight or height, that can make the final move even more challenging.
At the 2016 show, Chris Beardshaw presented a garden that would ultimately be transplanted to the roof of Great Ormond Street Hospital. His design of delicate Japanese maples, surrounded by hornbeam, oak and pear trees were a great challenge to move and place, both because the roof wasn’t designed to be weight-bearing and the trees had to be manoeuvred all the way to the roof. These issues were solved using weight-bearing columns and a crane to transport every piece of the garden. The entire garden involved over 200 volunteers, placing plants in nursery storage before they reached their final destination, while the trees were transported across London on the back of trucks. Due to a miscalculation of soil, however, the last few tonnes had to be brought in by a chain of people with buckets.
This is a perfect of example of how much planning is essential for moving a garden, and even on a smaller scale, such as a house removal, it should not be underestimated. In a house removal, however, it’s unlikely that the entire garden will be dismantled, as in the Flower Show. Plants and furniture should ideally have been removed the week before to dry out. Ensuring that plants are placed into pots and troughs also means that they can be easily transported in and out of moving vehicles, but make sure that they have been pruned, especially if they are heavy, to ensure that awkward branches or thorns won’t cause any injury.
Transporting a garden is an immense task as it can require a lot of precision and care. Unless the plants are placed into proper nursery storage, they shouldn’t really be stored long term by any removal company. Since plants are classified as living creatures, they often won’t be covered by any removers’ insurance policy, so liability for their loss or damage will probably be excluded. It’s a move that should only be attempted if the right amount of planning has been done in the first place