by Sarah Naybour
27th June 2016


The build of Chelsea Flower Show is just as exciting as the show itself. A bare lawn with only an obelisk in the middle of it is turned into over 25 show gardens and at least 400 trade stands plus the Grand Marquee which showcases specialist nurseries and flower arrangements.

These all get a different number of days to build. The first thing to go up is the marquee prior to the 1st May, when the large show gardens begin their build. Two weeks later the Fresh Gardens and Trade stands are allowed in and finally the nurseries arrive with only a couple of days to create their stands. It is a time of High Viz, steel toes caps, reversing alarms, cutting and grinding and monumental lifting. I once saw a mature tree being craned into place on Main Avenue – it took three hours! The logistics are phenomenal.  Certain RHS characters become infamous for being avoided, and other crucial to the smooth build of your stand. The whole atmosphere is one of excitement, anticipation, drama and overriding camaraderie. The whole site is clear and ready for judging by the Sunday before the show opens and it is miraculous the change once all the vans and dirt are removed.

Schellevis Build 2016

Day .1 see here.

Squared earth Ltd – Paul van Vliet, Steve and Jacob arrive on site with a van full of materials needed to form the boundary. The RHS have already removed our turf and excavated to our requirements. There are strict rules as to the height and structure of the boundaries between stands and gardens and it is up to us to have contacted our neighbours and swapped design plans before we get on site. However this year we were taken aback by the colour of the RHS stand next to ours – BRIGHT ORANGE !! This may have been a problem, but we decided to leave it and were glad we did.

End of Day .1.

Day .1. the state of the Fresh Garden area !


The boundary walls are up and Paul is beginning to make the framework for the upper terrace, which I have designed in an unusual shape – just to make him work just that little bit harder!

As usual his attention to detail is smack on and the stand begins to show signs of the ground plan.


The structure of the terrace is on place and the team have started cutting the edge pieces. We are beginning to get a reputation for being extremely noisy!! These edge pieces will be stacked up and slightly off set to give the appearance of stone walling for the lower residential garden area.


The large pavers arrive – much to the dismay of Paul and his team! They each weigh 200kg and our suction lifting pad only carried 150kg …. Extra labour is brought in to help. Cutting is hard work to, as each paver is reinforced with steel.

These pavers are to form the cantilever steps and top of the upper terrace.

We also start to create the chequer board pattern on the boundary walls.


Day .5.

Rachel Ducker arrives with the sculptures! and the girls are sitting pretty watching progress….


Meanwhile the boys are doing a grand job lifting the massive pavers into place and cutting them to fit my design.



The whole site is really beginning to take shape now. The trees are in place, the screens and pavers are almost finished on the boundary walls and the rusted steel posts are in for the sail awning.

We have to cover the pavers to protect them from all the dirt that is still around.

So now to installing the lower gravel garden. This is actually a quick job. Almost no cutting and lovely curb stone sleeper style pavers in a cream colour – created by Schellevis for the UK market. These instantly brighten the whole place and energy levels are high as we can see the end in sight!

Its Saturday! One day left….

I bring in help in the form of my daughter Ruby, to assist with the planting. Her natural sense for colour and composition mean that we work well together and I am glad of her attention to detail.

The RHS are very picky about seeing plant pots, so they all need to be buried carefully, or the plants actually planted – although this makes it harder to sell them off at the end of the show.


The plants are in and we place the sculptures.

Sunday. The day before judging….

We wash down the site, add cushions (you can now see why we left next door’s orange boundary.)

And Paul Ridley arrives to take photos……

FINISHED….. Time to go home, wash and decide what to wear for VIP and Press Day! I guess we can now relax?

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