I Love the Smell of Gold in the Morning!


Last month the Sparsholt College team who created the garden: ‘Behind the Genes’ took it to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019. Here’s what happened during the build, the show and after they brought it home . . .

The Sparsholt College team win gold at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Winning Gold
The Sparsholt College team win Best Discovery Exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
. . . and Best Discovery Exhibit

The team was over the moon! Winning a gold medal for the 9th time with their garden ‘Behind the Genes’, as well as ‘Best Discovery Exhibit’ in the Great Pavilion.

Sponsors Thompson & Morgan achieved 3rd place in RHS Plant of the Year Competition with Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’


During ‘build’ week, in the run up to the show, the team would meet at Sparsholt College at 8.30am for the eventful journey to London. Some travelled in style – in the lorry with the plants. That meant plotting a careful route into London, taking into account the congestion charges and avoiding roads with low bridges. As the lorry approached Chelsea, they were directed to wait in Battersea Park for 2 hours. The reason? Security: The Duchess of Cambridge made an unscheduled visit to her co-designed ‘Back to Nature’ garden.

Others travelled with Chris Bird, lecturer in horticulture at Sparsholt College. Aiming to arrive at the Royal Hospital grounds at 1 o’clock, their journey took a different turn

There were a few disasters that day, as the minibus broke down and shut a lane on the M3. Chris didn’t arrive at Chelsea until 6pm.

Liz Smith

The shape of the days for the ‘Chelsea’ Team:

  • When the show opened they’d meet at Sparsholt at 5.30am and drive to London.
  • The latest time for them to arrive home from Chelsea was 11.30pm on the day they finished building and arranging the garden.
  • Watering and deadheading was done after the show closed. The team would head home around 9pm.
  • Fleet service station became the place to eat on the way home along the M3.
  • The team could take advantage of the quietest time at the show. One member arrived at 7.15 am, strolling around the show gardens – before the grounds were opened to the public.

Sparsholt's 'Behind the Genes' garden, mid-section showing the DNA helix, with Agapanthus 'Fireworks' placed in pots either side and Hydrangea hybrid Runaway Bride 'Snow White' behind, underplanted with Helianthus annuus SunBelievable 'Brown Eyed Girl'.
Behind the shed – showing the DNA helix, with Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ placed in pots either side and Hydrangea hybrid Runaway Bride ‘Snow White’ behind, underplanted with Helianthus annuus SunBelievable ‘Brown Eyed Girl’.

When everything was in place the team realised that the DNA helix was backwards. They swiftly resolved the problem. Using mirrors to reverse the image of the spiral, it then appeared intentional. It was always supposed to be displayed like that!


Monty Don visits Chris Bird and the team on the 'Behind the Genes' garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Monty Don dropped by for an unexpected visit.
The Rich brothers, who were presenting coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 
came to visit Sparsholt's 'Behind the Genes' garden in the Great Pavilion.
The Rich brothers, who were presenting coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
came to visit too
.

On the last day of the show many of the plants were sold to whoever could carry them away. The remaining plants were kept for a ‘rebuild’ back at Sparsholt College in Hampshire. In mid-June the team rebuilt the garden to attract future horticulture students from local secondary schools.

The Sparsholt team, back on home territory, having rebuilt the Behind The Genes 2019 garden. The team await 5 coach loads of Y8 & Y9 students from The Westgate School and Kings' Schools Winchester.
The Sparsholt team, back on home territory, getting ready for 5 coach loads of Y8 & Y9 students from The Westgate School and Kings’ Schools Winchester

  • Next time you visit:
  • Want to read some flash fiction?
  • Remember to follow my blog
  • And read another of my 300 word stories here . . .

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