6th January 2014

Back in the office after a lovely break and suddenly it hits me. It is now 2014 so that means that it is now 100 years since the outbreak of World War One which also means that we now have to finalise designs and get everything ready and we only have four months left! Help.

Flooding in the Somerset Levels

On top of that, I have returned to the UK to find that the Somerset Levels are under water so I really need to check that the 9000 plants we are growing for the show garden are not drowning under thousands of litres of water. If they are, we are in trouble. So one of my first calls is to Dave Root of Kelways to see if all is okay. We are very fortunate (unlike most of the farmers in the area who are having a terrible time) that our baby plants are fine as the nursery is on slightly higher land than the surrounding. Thank goodness.

The next step is to visit the specialist nursery growing our grass for the garden. It is wonderful company called Wildflower Turf in Hampshire and they have a fantastic track record as they did the grass mounds for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony. So hopefully they will do us proud for our horticultural Olympics on May 19th! But decisions have to be made about which turf of theirs to use.

Materials

Then I have to finalise all the other materials for the garden: the Portland stone for the plinth, the stairs and the bench we need to select which quarry to source our stone. The quarry we want to work with is currently supplying all the replacement stone for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who are having to replace much of the dressed stone for the cemeteries.

We also need to decide what metal to use for the main wall it needs to look right and not cost too much money. We are having difficulty describing what we are looking for but we will get there! We need to source the reclaimed limestone setts to use for the Lost Gardens area of the garden. And possibly most tricky of all we need to confirm the design and specification of the very tall concrete wall which runs all along the garden. It is the most arresting feature of the garden which needs to sing and resonate. We are talking to Gray Concrete, a company which designs and fabricates amazing concrete and composite concrete products and with whom we think we will be able to work with to create the trench walls. The idea is to create a line of concrete walls with a battoned appearance, with a smoother bubbled finish for the central feature.

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