FutureScape 2015, held on 17 November, featured a fascinating three-way presentation offering tips on how to become involved in designing show gardens for events such as RHS Hampton Court and Chelsea.
First to speak was Hampton Court manager Dave Green, who took delegates through the process of submitting ideas for show gardens, as well as outlining what the RHS expects. According to Dave, criteria for selection includes not only the design itself, but also the designer’s history and background.
Next up was Rae Wilkinson who discussed her experience of bringing her design to fruition at Hampton Court. According to Rae, she started the process by volunteering for both shows to get an idea of what to expect, before eventually going on to submit her work.
Her advice to delegates included being prepared for the intense, all-consuming nature of show garden management and the often prohibitive cost, as well as the necessity of working with a contractor that you trust. Speaking of the benefits, she said: “Clients like to know that you’re an award-winning designer.”
Lastly came David Dodd, who offered some insights on this part of the landscaping industry from a contracting point of view. He suggested that the RHS, and the television companies that cover events, are interested in the designer and sponsor rather than the builder, which is something he said he’d like to see change.
He also suggested that it was essential for a contractor to target the right market with the right project, and that his company has turned down high-concept gardens that he didn’t think would be beneficial. The show garden, he said, has to be financially viable because of the work and stress involved, particular regarding Chelsea, compared to which Hampton Court is “like going on holiday.”