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RHS Chelsea Flower Show: Suffolk's bee friendly garden
The Bee Friendly Garden, Chelsea
The Bee Friendly Garden earned a silver medal at Chelsea

The plight of the honey bee is being highlighted at the 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show thanks to a gardening and architect team from Suffolk.

Garden designer Janey Auchincloss and architect Paul Hammond were awarded a silver medal for their Global Stone Bee Friendly Garden.

The pair were delighted to see their hard work pay off.

"We've done the garden and it looks better than we ever thought it possibly could," said Janey.

The idea for the garden came from Holly Cheese, from the Bee Friendly Plants nursery and a long-term client of Janey's.

"I formulated the design and got it off to the RHS," said Janey. "Paul designed my house for me and I found out he's a bit of a closet garden designer.

"He'd always wanted to get involved in Chelsea and he and I are now a real team.

"The motive at the basis is the honeycomb structure, the hexagon. We've got a section of honeycomb shaped planters, which hold honeycombed shaped hedges.

Bee friendly garden, Chelsea
Janey said the bee friendly plants featured are inexpensive to buy

"Within that we've got these big bold blocks of the bee-friendly plants.

"There's a swirl of sandstone and limestone paving that runs through the garden and then you've got this dark vein of blackness which we're using to visualise the plight of the bee.

"Right at the end is this slate wall with a thought-provoking quotation about bees."

The slate wall quoting Einstein provided one of the main headaches in the build up to the show. Digging wasn't permitted on the site and the pair found the slates wouldn't stick together without the aid of nails.

"There's something like 400 holes that we've had to drill," said Paul. "We talk of good days and bad days, the start of that day was a bad day but it ended up as a good day when we saw it go on the wall and we knew it would work.

"But it wasn't just the wall. Some of the beds where we had a tree planted - with the trees needing roots we had to raise the garden.

"That's where we used copper elements running around, and it's actually enhanced the design."

Springwatch theme

Bees are a key theme of this year's Springwatch campaign and Janey hopes the Chelsea garden will encourage gardeners to think of their plight.

"Bee populations are just disappearing," she said.

"We want to get over to the general public: A, they don't have to have this space [in their gardens] for a wild flower meadow or a patch of nettles, and B: the plants are readily accessible and they can get hold of them."

Paul Hammond and Janey Auchincloss
Paul and Janey are delighted with the final product at Chelsea

BBC Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin has been charting Janey and Paul's journey from the planning stages of the garden to the big unveiling on Chelsea's opening day, when the judges passed their judgment.

On the opening Monday, Lesley asked Janey what it was like to see her vision become a reality at the world famous show.

"Relieved," said Janey. "Everybody is so excited, we're happy, and I think that's actually all that matters.

"The panel comes round and you have to tell them if there's anything you left out.

"I mentioned the broken tree and the fact we didn't end up getting this red clover lawn - we've got a wild flower meadow plugged with red clover. And a couple of plants that didn't flower.

"They came back at 9 this morning, we watched them progressing down to our garden and that's when the final decision is made. We just disappeared at that point - I couldn't watch.

"It really went one good day for us, then one bad day. We've ended on a real high - we've got the garden that we wanted to create, it's a great team effort."

Team work

The pair were keen to state that the garden was a result of input from around Suffolk - with advice from Gedding Mill Forge and Lavenham Joinery, along with others, helping to shape the project.

"They all gave us advice - they all added to the process. It's a county thing for us," said Janey.

Like Janey, Paul was delighted with the final result.

"From when we first got here to an empty grass site, to what we see now, the transformation is amazing," he said.

"Putting the plants in has transformed it. Some things are a happy accident, how the light runs through the garden during the day, it just makes it. We're getting a lot of comments about that.

"With design, you always know what you want to achieve. But when it actually comes through and you can see that it's worked, it's great.

"There is a sigh of relief when you think, 'yes, that's perfect. That's how we want it'."





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