Fine Pruning

PUBLISHED: 17:40 07 April 2011 | UPDATED: 21:31 20 February 2013

Fine Pruning

Fine Pruning

We catch up with a few Wiltshire-inspired exhibitors as they make final preparations for this year's Chelsea Flower Show

EXHIBITOR: Charlie Clarke, Westdale Nurseries,

What will your display be like?
It is going to be a very colourful display of bougainvillea in all kinds of shapes and sizes, showing the many different ways there are of displaying them. You can grow them in hanging baskets, bushes, pyramids, espaliers, miniatures and much more. Its our chance to show how versatile they are.

How long have you been preparing for the event?
It is a good six months preparation of pruning the bougainvillea to shape, potting them on, and the usual feeding and watering, deadheading and staking. It usually takes a good day and a half to build the display and before that, transporting them up there and unloading them takes a while as Ill have 200 plants with me.
Why should visitors head for your exhibit? Bougainvilleas are very colourful plants that can flower all the year round, and you can save money by growing them. If you grow them in hanging baskets you dont need to buy annuals for the baskets just bring them inside over the winter. Some people also use them as an alternative to blinds in conservatories!

What aspect of your exhibit are you most concerned about and why?
Making sure we have enough plants at their peak at the right time!"But on the whole we have so many that I can pick out the best ones. Another worry is that we have the Malvern Spring Gardening Show not long before Chelsea so we will need plenty ready. Bougainvilleas do flower well at that time of the year though, so we dont have as many problems as other specialist growers might.

Why is it important to you to be at the Chelsea Flower Show?
Its a very prestigious event and we always get a lot of mail orders from it. As we now have many new businesses here on our two-acre site, it is great publicity for us. Its also really important for meeting international customers.

What is it about Wiltshire that inspires you in your gardening?
Wiltshire is a great county to live in. A lot of people think of it as spuds and carrots country like my old dad used to say, but theres a lot more to it these days. I was born in Bradford on Avon and have lots of grandchildren; Wiltshire is a great place to raise kids and is filled with lots of wonderful gardens.

EXHIBITOR: Terry Baker,
The Botanic Nursery, Melksham

What will your exhibit be like?
We are growing a selection of foxgloves, both perennial and the biennial native sort, to show the huge diversity and range of plants that exist within this one specific plant type.

How long have you been preparing for the event? What has taken the longest?
It takes 18 months to grow foxglove plants to the standard we need for Chelsea and other flower shows, but we have been growing them for 25 years so we have had lots of practice! The thing that takes longest is knowing how to grow them properly. An interesting idiosyncrasy is that the hardier a plant is and the easier it is to grow in a garden, the more difficult it is to grow in a pot to Chelsea standards.

Why should visitors head for your exhibit?
Everyone knows and loves foxgloves, and it is exciting for keen gardeners to see what huge variations are available in the plant. We have a prime site in the centre of the marquee and will be displaying close to 300 foxgloves in about 20 different types. Our stand is not just about looking either; we offer seeds for all the plants you can see on display, and foxgloves are so easy to grow from seed.
What aspect of your exhibit are you most concerned about and why?
We dont really have huge concerns over the flowers, normally it all goes well. Our biggest problem is keeping up with demand, offering good service and making sure that not only do the visitors see the plants, but learn how to grow them at the same time. Were certainly one of the more popular floral displays.

Why is it important to you to be at the Chelsea Flower Show?
It is without doubt the most important and best-known flower show in the world. I have personally been going for over 30 years, and displaying there for 20.

What is it about Wiltshire that inspires you in your gardening?
The county is great for gardeners as in the main it has soil for all types of plants; north of the county it is slightly acidic so camellias and rhododendrons thrive, while south of county the limestone scree soil is well drained for specialist nursery plants. Overall, Wiltshire is perfect for growing lots of flowering perennials in the summer months.

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