20th January 2014
We are well into the planning stages. Designs and working drawings need to be tweaked and trees need to be chosen. I make the first of a number of trips to suppliers for the garden.
My first trip is to Booth Engineering in Arundel in Sussex, a very good family run engineering firm with whom we work on much of our metal work. We have asked them to meet my landscape contractor Brian Herbert of Outdoor Options and me to discuss how we are going finish our metal wall at the end the garden.
We are not yet sure which metal to use, how it will be finished off and whether we should have rivets to secure the panels. Our dilemma is that rivets were used on some of the early tanks which were introduced in 1916 but we feel they may detract from the honesty and simplicity of the wall. At this point we are still not sure.
I have also been down to Wildflower Turf who are growing all the grass to lay on our mound and around it. They grow miles and miles of turf of all sorts of qualities on a hill in Hampshire. And it is all grown on micro thin mats so that it can be moved easily and laid down instantly. A really miraculous development which was used for the giant mound at the opening of the London Olympics.
We have to work out how to get the turf to reach the stage we want it to for the mid May launch of Chelsea. We also need to determine the proportions of the grass and flowers within the turf. I do not want what I call a fruit salad of wild flowers detracting from the rest of the planting on the garden.
Finally I visited the quarry on the Isle of Portland where Portland stone has been quarried centuries. It is Portland stone which dresses most of the principal buildings in London including St Pauls Cathedral. The Imperial War Graves Commission commissioned the Portland quarries to also produce all the Stones of Remembrance and head stones in the IWGC cemeteries all over the world. I had to make the long trip down and back to London in a day and I was lucky that I went down to when I did because the island is linked to the mainland by a causeway and it has been almost cut off a number of times during all the storms since the New Year.
We have decided to buy the stone from Stone Firms Ltd which is one of the two remaining quarries in Portland. They are supplying all the stone being used to redress and repair the Menin Gate in Ypres in time for the centenary of World War One. They will be supplying for our two plinths and the three monumental steps up to the Lost Gardens Zone in the centre of my show garden.