THE ROAD TO CHELSEA
After an eventful December and some much-needed downtime, we find ourselves well into January. The recent cold snap has inevitably turned my thoughts to tulips, and consequently, the long journey that lies ahead of us on the road to the Chelsea Flower Show in May.
I am frequently asked about Chelsea, and, of course, about our display. It has remained largely unchanged since the 1940s. While it certainly takes center stage during the show week, it’s all too easy to overlook the months of planning, hard work, and stress that go into producing our Gold Medal-winning stand of cut tulips.
In the coming months, I would like to guide you through this intricate process. My aim is to provide some insight into what has become not just a labor of love but also a celebration of tradition and my family’s legacy. The approach we take now is almost identical to the one my grandfather and great-grandfather employed.
The process starts in September, where we put aside our bulbs for planting. These are picked from the same stocks of bulbs that are sent to our customers. The only difference being the new introductions, which we will trial ourselves, before deciding if they are suitable to sell.
Towards the end of October is when planting begins. This is done mostly by hand. We dig trenches to the size of our dutch greenhouse, and around 80,000 tulip bulbs are planted over the course of about two weeks.
We are also trialing a new way of growing tulips for our display. For this we have constructed several raised beds, where over the next two weeks we will be planting our remaining stock. These tulips will mostly be used for the displays at our show gardens. Only the very best will make it to Chelsea.
Next time, I will show the progress of planting for the show gardens, and try to give you an insight into how we decide what tulips to bring to Chelsea, and how we start planning the display itself.