My commission to do a short film about the planning and completion of a Show Garden at the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show taught me a valuable lesson in planning for every eventuality. Hartley Botanic, a long time trade exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show, decided to step into the design arena with their first show garden on Main Avenue. This was the first time they had undertaken such a venture and they asked me to do a short film to document the occasion.
Firstly, I did an interview with the designer before the show to discuss the design and allow me the opportunity to introduce myself and get a feel for the garden and what to expect. I have been to the Chelsea Flower Show for many years now and understand the stress and difficulties associated with building a show garden, the site, access, etc. The designers are always under pressure to deliver on the biggest stage of the gardening calendar year. Weather, plants and people can all cause unforeseen problems so it was important the designer Catherine MacDonald of Landform Consultants knew what role I played.
The key to a successful shoot is research and planning, with a back up plan if needed, given the shoot is time critical. The images above shows the scene I was faced with for most of the days shoot. Catherine was busy getting the garden finished in time for judging which had to take priority, so I had to change my plans for the shoot several times throughout the day. I took every opportunity to film close up details of the garden.
The ability to think outside the box and think quickly on your feet are skills most photographers and film makers have to learn alongside all the technicalities of the equipment. Throw into the mix the great British weather and garden photography is a challenge at the best of times.
Would I have it any other way? No, I loved every minute of it and Catherine and her dedicated team got a well deserved gold medal. The finished garden was stunning.