Chelsea Update March 5th
Chelsea Update 5th March 2019.
After two weeks of summer in February produced a massive surge in plant growth, we have now reverted to weather which is less pleasant for working, but is more typical of late winter. However, most plants are still waking up and growing strongly so it does still feel so far like it’s an early year.
Since our last update, Dave and Simon have been on a spanish road trip with Tom Hoblyn and Joe Perkins, and have managed to successfully source some of the remaining plants needed to complete their plant lists. Teucrium, Myrtus, Pistachia, Eugenia, Meterosideros, and Grevillea were some of the key structural shrubs tagged and purchased on the trip. It was good to get a dose of spanish sunshine, only to return to find it hotter in the UK!
We mentioned before that the key skills for growing plants for the greatest flower show in the world are timing, and enviromental manipulation.
Timing is crucial, we have to work backwards from 20th May, anticipate the general weather trend and know when to start plants off. This is particularly important with annuals. Some we start in the autumn and overwinter as plugs like Centaurea and Glaucium. Other very quick species such as Nicotiana, and Papaver are only just being sown now. It’s incredible and slightly daunting to think that these tiny germinating seedlings will be full size flowering plants in 2L pots in about 12 weeks time.
With environmental manipulation, here’s a couple of examples. Crambe cordifolia naturally wants to flower a month after Chelsea. So we have to cook it in our warmest and brightest tunnel to get it to mature enough to flower for the middle of May. Too much heat and not enough light and it will look stretched and horrid, yet too little heat, and it won’t flower in time. It’s a fine balancing act!
At the other end of the spectrum, are plants which we need to rapidly slow down or they will be too far gone for the show. One of the plants that gives us the greatest headache every year is Echium webberi. Only slightly frost hardy, and prone to flowering a month before Chelsea this plant gets frosted if left out in the cold, and flowers too early if grown inside, So its constantly on the move and indeed the plant pots are stood on pallets, ready to move inside to outside to inside again as the weather dictates. Even then, its only about one year in four when we actually get success! What will happen this year? Look at the picture and have a guess, because at this stage, we don’t know either!
Matt and his team are already in top gear, moving, spacing, potting, trimming and staking plants. At least once a week, we have a visit by a client, often accompanied, by a small entourage of helpers, marketing guys and even TV crews. The pressure ramps up daily!
Keep checking in for Dave’s update next week.