Chelsea Flower Show: Unexpected Items in the Bagging Area

This post was inspired by a conversation with Linda Smith of the Waterside Nursery in the Great Pavilion a couple of years ago, but events conspired against me completing the task. Until now...

Waterside Nursery's gold medal display. Linda Smith was a little stressed about her iris
refusing to open when I stopped by, so she deserves an extra medal for chatting to me

Imagine the scene. You're exhibiting your prize plants at Chelsea Flower Show for the first time and you're putting together the equipment you'll need to construct the staging for your stand. Your pots, materials, tools and props are gathered together, but you have a feeling you've overlooked something absolutely vital.

You turn to your experienced colleagues for their advice ~ what useful but unexpected items do they keep in their bagging area?

Waterside Nurseries use this tea strainer to keep their water clear of all the pollen and other bits which drift into the Great Pavilion and settle on the water. They also have a handy supply of bricks - not for using as stands for their plants, but for making sure they don't fall over.

What a marvellous spot which shows even tropical plants need some tlc in the heat of the Great Pavilion. I looked at the Barbados stand on Sunday and sadly they were only using the usual pots and trays, so many thanks to David for letting me embed his tweet.

As you can see the pool helped keep Barbados's plants in tippity top condition for them to achieve a well deserved gold.

Over at the NAFAS exhibit, I was intrigued to find this shaving brush in their toolkit. Apparently it's a much gentler way of dusting off the plants rather than using a paint brush.

Andy McIndoe was a little taken aback by my question because everything in Hillier's toolkit is what's usually there from his point of view. However, he did admit a can of grey spray paint is sometimes used to touch up the odd spot on their gold medal winning display. Not on those foxgloves though! And what a marvellous transformation from my sneak preview :)

And finally I was surprised to find some dog food bags in the Great Pavilion. However, they turned out to contain the pine cones used as a mulch for Sparsholt College's display instead of dog food. Their gold medal winning exhibit is all about recycling so it's good to see them living up to their show's message.

I wonder what else I might find the next time I enter the Great Pavilion...


  1. It's fascinating to see some of the tricks of the trade isn't it?

    1. Absolutely :-) That's why I love going round Chelsea during the build.

  2. What an enjoyable, and interesting, post. Flighty xx

  3. It's amazing what is used to make those displays so wonderful that they win a gold! Good for them.

    1. Indeed! Looking at my photos I see I need to find out how the black cotton is used...

  4. Neat! Esp. the shaving brush.

    1. Yes, the shaving brush was a litle surprising, especially as they had a full array of paint brushes too!

  5. What a great behind-the-scenes glimpse, thank you! The level of work and manic attention to detail that goes in to these exhibits is awe-inspiring. And a little scary...

  6. A shaving brush is also ideal for dusting books.


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