Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Chelsea build update

Day 6 of the build and, at the risk of jinxing it, all is going rather well.  The garden office arrived on day one, a wonderfully warm and dry refuge from the horrible weather we've been having and was positioned into the perfect spot by a very adept hiab-operator.  Instantly we had somewhere to stash tools, sculpture and ourselves, although at the reasonable risk of engendering hatred from our fellow exhibitors who did not have the luxury of underfloor heating and recessed spot lights. 

She (I assume the garden office is a she as she's too pretty and elegant to be a 'he') is fantastic.  We now had perfect 90 degree angles from which to build the walls and paving, set levels and a power source.

The path, laid so expertly by men far more skilled and masculine than I, is a pale slate with a honed finish that perfectly matches our brand colours (intentional) and was laid with the unerring precision of Dustin Hofmann in 'Rain Man'.  I have never seen such care put into anything in my life, it was a man version of a birth and the child is frankly beautiful - although I'm prepared to concede that all parents are liable to be a tad biased.

The lighting so kindly donated by Vivid and designed by Chiaroscura went in yesterday, all built to the greenest specifications and casting a warm light from a combniation of spot lights, floods and LED strips.

  The latest sculpture, 2.4m of stunning glass.

The artists started to deliver their work over the build days, each seems a great fit and I cannot wait to get the final pieces later today.  There are moon jars from Pembrokeshire, bronze sculpture from Chester, woodwork from Sussex, every day something new arrives on a truck and I get to place it on our ever-expanding site.  I say 'expanding' as the RHS have allowed us to spread our footprint by around 13 square meters, which is just fantastic.

The other exhibitors have been so helpful, there's a real feeling of 'all in this together', whether it is lending site machinery or donating jumbo bags of Type 1.  We've been offered plants, advice, tools, there is a great sense of family united under pressure which I had not anticipated, it is wonderful to feel part of it.  Even though the hours are extreme our energy levels are not dwindling as the sheer volume of complex projects gives such a sensory overload that it is hard to notice the exhaustion kicking in until I crawl into bed.

Must dash, more to do but thought I'd pause for breath and show you a few snaps of the build in progress.  Hope to see you at the show!

Rick Kirby's 'The Call'

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

It's shed Jim, but not as we know it...

Being both male and into gardens I am statistically unlikely to be ambivalent on the subject of sheds.  My first shed was quite a moment; a quiet refuge from the cares of the world where I could spill potting compost and vermiculite, store various hazardous chemicals in grossly unsuitable containers or just sit and relax.

Sadly my shed and I have since parted ways, I'm convinced that it was seeing a greenhouse behind my back, and I have not found another to replace it.  However, I recently came across a garden building that, while tough to label 'shed', certainly gave me those long-forgotten butterflies I once knew.  While searching for a way to ensure a dry area for clients at this month's Chelsea Flower Show I came across a company that specialises in exquisite garden buildings, called Pod-space (www.pod-space.co.uk).

These are fully customisable additional rooms, complete with under-floor heating, integrated light and power and every ecological technology that one could ask for.  The internal spaces are clean, modern and efficiently laid out, there is plenty of storage space, they even come with skylights.  Like an awkward teenager shuffling towards the most gorgeous girl in school I looked through their website tentatively, fighting to suppress my feelings of guilt towards the shed that I left behind.  My old shed didn't have a green roof, other than the algae collecting in the guttering.  Nor did it have under-floor heating.  Hmmmm, maybe one's 1st love leaves one blind to the objective truth?

What consoled me was the realisation that I was not comparing like with like, this is more contemporary architecture than simple storage.  Rather than pump time and money into planning permissions and building material, a section of the market are quietly buying these stunning outbuildings, then putting their feet up in luxurious surroundings bathed in natural sunlight.  This assuaged my feelings of guilt and left me free to continue purring at the pod.

What is more, the affection was mutual.  Having contacted the company to discuss using one of their products at Chelsea this year, Pod Space were delighted to offer me us the use of one of their buildings.  Having looked at our brand compatibility, styling and ethos we found it was a very good fit.  Both companies source sustainable products, both emphasise quality and finish, both seek to give you greater reason to be in your garden more often.

Mutual back-slapping concluded Pod-Space then kindly agreed to install one of their Micro Pod Max pieces into our upcoming installation, giving clients a wonderful place to shelter from the highly probable May showers, and collect it too.  We will now be able to set up a large screen to show clients our visualisation offerings, store materials and sculpture, install a small wine fridge to celebrate sales with our new visitors and so on.  All in all this is a wonderful collaboration with a partner company that we are very excited about working with in the future.

Do feel free to pop in and see the pod for yourself at our stand, to be found in the Fresh Exhibition at Chelsea Flower Show 2012.