Here’s the latest from Jim, who is on-site at Chelsea as the construction phase kicks off:
Wed 4th May
Today was again very sunny and dry. The crew started at 7am and finished at 7pm – the first of many long days, I suspect! Excavation was completed and unearthed an old foundation for a barrage balloon from World War II, which will remain intact underneath our sunken fire pit area. We also had an RHS arborist on site all day watching for tree roots which have to be protected. Part of the excavation is preparing for all the pipes for the water features (see engineering plan for pipe work in the pic below). There are about five balance tanks with multiple pumps which require 1m deep pits behind our Gorge wall. This means that if a pump fails it can be replaced from behind the scenes without disrupting views of the Garden.
We also had the BBC filming behind the scenes as they are following our contractor Mark Gregory and Landform Consultants as they build two gardens. Their second garden is for the Royal Bank Canada and is a smaller garden on the other side of Main Avenue, which starts construction later in the week. Landform has also set up two site sheds behind the garden and have a full-time person dedicated to the welfare of the crew; supplying everything from first aid, to water and tea and coffee. The main shed has a fridge, toaster and microwave for the comfort of the build crew.
The good folk at Macquarie Group are getting very excited to be involved as the major sponsor of our Show Garden and are preparing a staff function on Friday night, which I am excited to be speaking at. Two Macquarie staff will have the opportunity of winning a prize to visit behind the scenes at Chelsea during our last week of build.
Tomorrow, Mark Gregory is driving me 2.5 hrs north to see our Australian turf. As the strength of our root system is unknown, we need to work out how the turf can be lifted without it falling apart.