We are lucky to have a trade stand at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, that wonderful feast of gardening inspiration in the heart of the capital. We’re even luckier to be located right on Main Avenue, the primary route through the site, in amongst the spectacular show gardens. Close to the action, we have a grandstand view of everything that’s going on; the media, the celebs as they come and go, and the garden designers and the
This year we’ve been watching Tracy Foster and her team create the magical and evocative Welcome to Yorkshire garden, right opposite our stand. Taking inspiration from the rugged beauty of the Yorkshire coast, it’s made us feel very at home! We’ve been based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, since 1730… and catching up with Tracy, I was delighted to discover that she’s a Sheffield lass herself. After her horticultural training, her first job in the city was with British Steel. Sheffield is an area that’s been recognised for its expertise in steel and knives since the 14th century, and we still work with steel there today.
Tracy, however, went into horticulture as soon as she found a suitable job and left the world of steel behind. Apart from her garden tools, that is – and I was pleased to learn that she uses our secateurs.
Her Yorkshire garden celebrates the county’s wild places, its shoreline, its agricultural landscape… all rolled into one. It was inspired, Tracy explained, by the coast around Flamborough Head, between Bridlington and Filey. It’s a spectacular area, well-known to birdwatchers, as seabirds nest there in their thousands. Personally I remember it in late spring, the white chalk and towering lighthouse dazzling in the sunshine, the yellow fields of oilseed rape brilliant against a bright blue sky… Yorkshire has a wonderful wild beauty and the Welcome to Yorkshire garden captures it perfectly.
Tracy explained that she’d had been on site since 2nd May, and certainly the garden was already looking perfect by the time I first saw it. She has gone to extraordinary lengths to create a slice of Yorkshire at Chelsea. There are over 50 species in the garden, and more than 3000 individual plants – not to mention the eight tonnes of sand from Scarborough beach, and two tonnes of pebbles borrowed from South Landing, Flamborough - which will be returned to their Yorkshire home at the end of the show.
I may have missed the garden’s build, but what I did see was the watering ritual, morning and evening, to maintain the beautiful lushness that so perfectly captures the Yorkshire cliffs. The sounds that accompany the garden are a delightful touch – the constant gentle lapping of waves and the shriek of gulls wheeling overhead create a sense of time and place which allows the garden to work its magic.
Congratulations to Tracy Foster on the silver medal awarded to this beautiful and very special Yorkshire garden. www.tracyfostergardendesign.co.uk