New West Woodhay Gardeners’ Fair - A Paradise for Passionate Gardeners

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West Woodhay Gardeners’ Fair is being held in Association with *The National Garden Scheme, in the elegant private gardens and country estate of West Woodhay House near Newbury in Berkshire, on 23-25 June 2017, with all proceeds being donated to charity.

The Fair, which has been masterminded by the same team who ran the successful Cottesbrooke Gardeners’ Fair in Northamptonshire for over five years, will offer passionate gardeners a treasure trove of quality plants and gardening products, direct from some of the UK and Europe’s finest plant nurseries and product makers.

In its first year, The West Woodhay Gardeners Fair has already attracted many of the UK’s top plant growers including RHS Gold Medal winning nurseries Hardy’s Cottage Plants and Tynings Climbers, Special Plants, The Botanic Nursery and Shady Plants.  

The diversity and individuality of the garden paraphernalia exhibitors at the Fair, reflects the careful selection process of the organisers, who have only selected products made with the highest quality craftsmanship.  Garden product makers include James Fuller from Home and Garden Ironwork, with his hand-made garden furniture, the Victorian Glass House Company, bespoke gates and hurdles from craftsman Dave Seabourne from Green Man Woodcrafts and from Paris, some French chic, from Ma Mouillere, with its range of designer garden over-shoes.

Entrance tickets to the Fair also give visitors an exclusive opportunity to stroll around the beautiful private gardens and estate of West Woodhay House (right), which is not generally open to the public. 

West Woodhay House has a long-held reputation for raising huge sums for charity. Over the last decade events at the estate have already raised over £250,000 for charitable causes. The aim of the Estate in 2017 is to continue this tradition by staging this new annual garden event, which raises the bar in terms of content and presentation. Once again, all proceeds from the new Fair will be distributed between five local charities and the Fair’s chosen national charity beneficiary, the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Tickets to the Fair cost £9 each for advance online booking, or £12 each on the gate.  The Ticket price includes entry to the West Woodhay Gardens and Estate and free parking.

For further information and advance ticket bookings, which are available to book from mid-March, please visit www.westwoodhayfair.co.uk

ENDS

Posted on April 27, 2017 .

Chris Beardshaw Returns to his Nurseryman Roots for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

For this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Chris Beardshaw has returned to his roots as a nurseryman, and is taking the unusual step of personally growing and nurturing over 2000 herbaceous plants, which will play a starring role in The Morgan Stanley Garden.

Chris began his horticultural career at 11 years old, working at weekends at a nursery in Worcestershire where he learnt to propagate plants and inspire customers.   It was here that his real passion for plants began.  And now after 35 years in the horticultural, and garden design industry, Chris is enjoying being back in the glasshouse and getting up-close and personal with the many thousands of stunning plants, he will soon be planting in the Morgan Stanley Garden on Main Avenue.

Chris Beardshaw Potting on plants for RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Chris Beardshaw Potting on plants for RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Chris, who created his first RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden in 1998 and has gone on to win 11 RHS Gold Medals, said, “There is something magical about being able to handle, nurture and encourage our plants in a refined environment with a very specific goal – that of bringing the plants to as close to perfection as possible in time for the show. In doing so I am getting to know the plant material intimately, not just the difference between the species, but every plant in every pot becomes familiar and as a consequence I can already build up a picture of how the plant will play a role in the finished garden.” 

The Morgan Stanley Garden features two distinct planting areas and unusually for Chelsea, the public will be able to view the garden from three sides, with each perspective providing a contrasting planting style.

A sinuous path leads from a naturalistic woodland which features a collection of specimen trees which are underplanted with an array of woodland perennial species such as Hostas’, Geranium, Brunnera and Ferns, to provide a verdant tapestry of foliage textures.

The informal path makes the transition from the woodland through to a dramatic, oak and limestone Loggia, which has been designed by Chris and was inspired by his study of fractal geometry, as found in nature and the structures of nature.  The path leads out to a third zone which contrasts the woodland with a sun soaked terrace at the front of the garden. The area is richly planted with abundant jewel like perennials, such as Iris, Geraniums, Echiums, Agapanthus and specimen herbs.

Chris concluded, “Like most designers for shows we usually prepare our designs and select our plants from commercial nurseries, who then grow them on for us.  We will visit them regularly to check on progress but the next time we see them is when they are delivered to Chelsea.  It’s then straight off the trollies and onto the show garden for planting.  But this year we decided to do things differently. Looking after the plants is obviously very time consuming when we are so busy with everything else.  And is quite challenging as we have to work with the changing weather conditions - holding back some species, while coaxing on others.  But for me the planting is the aspect of any show garden creation I love the most and this year will be even more special and rewarding.”  

Posted on April 27, 2017 .

New luxury glamping resort to showcase latest in natural swimming pool design

A new luxury £4 million touring and glamping resort which is being built near Shrewsbury, is to feature a stunning, state-of-the-art natural, chemical free, swimming pool at the heart of the development.

 

The Love2Stay resort is being developed by Salop Leisure, one of the UK’s premier caravan and leisure companies. Love2Stay, which is scheduled to open at Easter 2017, is situated on the edge of the market town of Shrewsbury in 22 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. It will offer visitors a luxurious natural retreat, with accommodation in either 20 glamping Safari style lodges or 120 touring caravan pitches, with panoramic views across to Wales from on one side and over to the Shropshire Hills from the other.  

The 432 metre squared natural swimming pool at the centre of the resort is being designed and built by Poolscape Ltd in collaboration with multiple RHS Gold Medal winning landscape design practice, MOSAIC.  The team are using the latest technology from Austrian natural pool specialists BIOTOP.  The bespoke pool design will offer swimmers crystal clear, chemical free water, which is naturally filtered by BIOTOP’s market leading pumps and filtration technology. 

The natural pool design also incorporates a stunning 230 metre square planted regeneration zone filled with water lilies and a naturalistic marginal zone, which will be planted with British native reeds and rushes to create the appearance of a natural lake at the centre of the resort. The pool will be flanked on three sides by spacious cedar decking edged with soft, textural herbaceous borders.

Creating a public space natural swimming pool requires considerable expertise to ensure the clarity of the water for a larger number of swimmers.  BIOTOP were the company who invented the first commercial natural swimming pools in Austria more than 30 years ago. They are the world’s market leader, having built more than 5,000 private and public natural swimming pools around the world, including the UK’s first public natural swimming pool in 2015, at the King’s Cross Development in London.

Poolscape is a UK partner of BIOTOP and its team has been working with BIOTOP’s founder Peter Petrich to design a completely new, deep water chamber which is hidden at the side of pool, but which enables the swimming area to remain at a safe 1.4 metres deep.

Mark Bebb, Salop Leisure’s managing director said: “With Love2Stay we are keen to develop a resort that is at one with nature and will instill a feeling of well-being and tranquility in our visitors.  Our lives have become dominated by technology, with our children glued to i-pads and the Internet. We want them to get back to nature and experience the grass between their toes.  With our stunning centrepiece pool, they will be able to swim safely in pure, chemical free natural water and feel like they are wild swimming in a mountain lake.”

BIOTOP’s managing director Peter Petrich said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Salop on this exciting and innovative glamping concept which has the environment and nature at its core. Our partner Poolscape is creating a stunning natural pool design. The pool technology is tailor-made for the water volume and the number of swimmers. They will be able to enjoy all the benefits of natural outdoor swimming.

For further information about Love2Stay visit www.love2stay.co.uk or for BIOTOP Natural Pools please visit www.bio.top

Posted on April 27, 2017 .

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden Aims to Inspire Budding Poets

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Gardens have inspired great poems throughout history, from Homer’s Garden of Alcinous to Milton’s Paradise Lost, through to Elizabeth Jenning’s In a Garden.  However, for Garden Designer Fiona Cadwallader, it was a poem by Samuel Coleridge, This Lime Tree Bower my Prison, which provided the inspiration for her garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. And Fiona is hoping that her design The Poetry Lover’s Garden will also provide some lyrical encouragement to some of the 150,000 visitors to the show, to explore their creativity and have a go at writing their own garden-related ‘Micro-Poem’.

Poets will be asked if they would like to create a short ‘Micro-Poem’ about Fiona’s garden, or any of the incredible displays of floral delights at Chelsea. They can post these on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #CFSpoet.  The Micro-Poems can also be submitted in a Poem Pot at the side of Fiona’s Artisan Garden.  Each day Fiona will select her Poet of the Day from all the entries.

Fiona commented: “I studied Coleridge’s work at university and ‘This Lime Tree Bower My Prison’ made a big impression on me, as the poem echoed my own belief that everyone has an innate appreciation for nature, and gardens can be a heightened version of that. So, when I was considering ideas for my first Chelsea show garden, it felt natural for me to reference the themes of this beautiful poem in the design.  Alongside garden design, poetry is a real passion of mine and I’d like to encourage other people to let the beauty of the gardens and floral exhibits at Chelsea inspire them to write a short micro-poem which captures their thoughts of their visit. I hope we can create a real poetry buzz throughout the week of the show.”

Posted on April 27, 2017 .

The Trugmaker’s Garden – keeping the art of traditional Trugmaking alive

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – Artisan Garden

The Trugmaker's Garden - RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015

The Trugmaker's Garden - RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015

The dying craftsmanship of Sussex Trugmakers who have been making the iconic willow and sweet chestnut garden Trugs for over 200 years, is being highlighted in a stunning Artisan Garden designed by first time RHS Chelsea Flower Show designers, Serena Fremantle and Tina Vallis.

The garden is sponsored by Future Climate Info who provide essential information for home buyers on  environmental risks such as contaminated land, flooding, ground instability, and energy industry and infrastructure activities (for example shale gas and HS2). Future Climate Info's environmental risk reports are normally obtained by the solicitor or legal conveyancer acting for the homebuyer.
The theme for the Trugmaker’s Garden was inspired by the story of one particular artisan Trugmaker Mr Smith, who became famous in the 1850s while exhibiting at The Great Exhibition where he was asked by Queen Victoria to create several Trugs as gifts for her family.  Mr Smith was so proud of his work he put the finished Trugs in a wheelbarrow and walked with them all the way from East Sussex to deliver them in person to Buckingham Palace. 

The designers wanted to highlight that the traditional artisan Trug making skills are dying out as cheaper mass market plywood and plastic products are produced.  The garden aims to promote the true craftsmanship and high quality of the Sussex Trug which are still made today using willow and the distinctive darker sweet chestnut circular handle. 

Sussex Trugs are also highly sustainable as they are made from the by-products of willow cricket bat manufacture, and the chestnut used is coppiced from managed woodlands. Nothing goes to waste in their making. Unlike their cheaper counterparts, traditional Sussex Trugs are extremely long lasting and easy to mend. When they do finally reach the end of their life, the wood was traditionally used for fire kindling or put on a compost heap.

Serena Fremantle (right of photo) and Tina Vallis have designed the garden to evoke a typical Trugmaker’s garden in front of a traditional timber built workshop.  The garden’s vibrant planting scheme of oranges and acid greens, set against greens, plums and dashes of blue and red, is intended as a means of attracting passing trade. The busy workshop is bursting with willow and chestnut wood and the traditional Trugmaker’s tools, which have been loaned by working Sussex Trugmakers.
Trug materials and techniques are used throughout the garden design, including the fence and chestnut stepping stones. The steps up the garden use reclaimed bricks made of local Wealden clay.

Serena and Tina were introduced to each other by their contractor, Frogheath Landscapes, and the two decided to take on the challenge of a Chelsea garden together.  Tina Vallis trained at Kew and has over 18 years’ experience as a garden designer in Kent and East Sussex.  She has a deep understanding of the plants and planting conditions of this region. She creates environmentally sympathetic plantings that flourish in the local soils. Serena Fremantle runs her own garden design studio in Wiltshire.  After graduating from Inchbald in 2012, Serena has immediately offered work alongside award winning designer, Jo Thompson. Before moving to Wiltshire, she had also lived in Kent and she designs garden for private clients in Kent, East Sussex and Wiltshire.  In 2013 Serena was invited back to Inchbald as a studio tutor.  

The garden sponsor Future Climate Info is keen to offer a sustainable life for the show garden after Chelsea.  Therefore, many of the plants and shrubs from the Trugmakers garden will be replanted in the garden at a local children’s hospice run by the charity Demelza http://demelza.org.uk/

ENDS
Issue date: 15 December 2014

For further media information please contact Jane Southcott pr T: 01275 852026 M: 07787 527430 Or E: jane@janesouthcottpr.co.uk

Future Climate Info’s Reports provide extensive data, full risk assessments, clear solutions and a concise summary for the property sector.

Posted on January 5, 2015 .

The new ultimate high-performance gardening trouser from Genus

Genus, the world’s only high performance gardening clothing company, has launched its new for 2015 collection with the introduction of its new introduction high performance 3 Season Gardening Trouser, which is brimming with unique gardening functionality and clever horti’ features, to provide passionate gardeners with all the performance, style and comfort they need for a hard day in the garden –whatever the weather.

The stylish 3-Season Gardening Trousers have a relaxed and flattering fit that gives you all day comfort whatever jobs you have planned in the garden.  The specially integrated horti’ features include an array of bespoke pockets including one for your phone, several deep hand pockets that are great for gardening gloves or string and other smaller zipped pockets which are perfect for seed packets, labels, or other easy to lose gardening paraphernalia.  However, the most amazing pockets which set these Trousers apart from any ordinary work wear trousers, are the two ingenious stab resistant pockets, on each side of the leg.  These have been carefully tailored by Genus, so that you can carry a long trowel without it getting in the way, a pair of secateurs or the sharpest of knives, without any fear of injury.  

Genus, which is the brainchild of Managing Director and passionate gardener Sue O’Neil, have thought of every gardening eventuality and the trousers even include a discretely integrated damp proof seat panel to ensure you never get a ‘soggy bottom’ when you need to sit outside.  And if you prefer to kneel in your borders for planting or weeding, the trousers feature an ingenuous and breathable damp-proof knee pad system, which is fully adjustable to fit a variety of leg lengths.

Other handy features include a stylish and fully adjustable belt, a D-ring for keys and ankle press studs to tighten the trouser legs so you can slip them easily into boots.

The 3-Season Gardening Trousers are perfect for most weathers.  They’re made from a durable, but lightweight, showerproof stretch fabric, and as you’d expect from such hard working gardening trousers they’re easy-care and quick drying, so that they’re ready when you are to get back out in the garden.

Talking about the new 3 Season Trousers Sue O’Neil says, “This second collection of Genus gardening clothing for 2015 is packed with so many great features.  I personally test wore the prototypes in my garden for several weeks last year to ensure we’d thought of everything a gardener needs to make a day in the garden easier and more comfortable.  We know that most people still wear old clothes to garden in, but we hope to create a mini gardening revolution so that gardeners start to see the benefits of high performance clothes which are designed for gardeners by gardeners and which work as hard as they do!” 

The new 3 Season Gardening Trousers cost £95 and are available for women and men. To order and to see the range of Genus Gardening Clothing visit www.genus.gs 

ENDS
For further information about Genus Garden Clothing visit www.genus.gs

For further Media information please contact Jane Southcott pr, T: 01275 852026 M: 07787 527430 E: Jane@janesouthcottpr.co.uk

Posted on January 5, 2015 .

Chris Beardshaw to create Morgan Stanley's Healthy Cities Garden

Rather than following the traditional route of simply attaching its name to a show garden, first time RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsor Morgan Stanley has asked Chelsea stalwart Chris Beardshaw to design a garden to form an integral part of the firm’s global Healthy Cities programme.  

The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden is an artistic interpretation of ‘community’ and has been specifically designed by Chris to be relocated after the show to become the central feature of a new community project in East London.  Further details of the project will be announced by Morgan Stanley in early 2015.  This project builds on the firm’s 40+ year commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of children through philanthropic community involvement. 

Through the garden design, Chris has taken a holistic view and considered the mechanism of what makes a city healthy and, by definition, what gives rise to a healthy community.  The formal geometry of the hedges, paths and walls, symbolises the physical infrastructure of a community.  The internal, interwoven knot garden creates a framework for Chris’ vibrant perennial planting which denotes the social diversity within a community.  The understorey of contrasting and flowing perennials are punctuated with sparkling vertical spires which create a cloud of colour to draw the planting together in a harmonious tapestry. Like the residents, the plants are diverse in their geographic origin, texture and character, but they coexist to form a successful community.

The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities programme integrates the delivery of the fundamental building blocks of Wellness, Play and Nutrition so that children can get a healthy start in life.  Once the show garden is relocated, it will become the centrepiece of a newly developed community space which will include a safe place for children to learn and play, a location for community events, and dedicated areas for residents to grow their own produce. 

Eight times RHS gold medal winner, Chris Beardshaw said, “Creating a beautiful standalone show garden which also has to work as one tile within a wider project, is an exciting challenge and one I hope we have achieved through this design.  I am wholly supportive of Morgan Stanley’s Healthy Cities initiative as I believe that people in all communities should have access to quality green space, areas for play and the opportunity to positively interact.  I am thrilled to be representing the work of Morgan Stanley with this show garden and wider community project and am looking forward to working with its team of volunteers in helping to relocate this garden to its new home following Chelsea.”

Colm Kelleher, President of Institutional Securities, Morgan Stanley, said:  “We are delighted to be working with Chris Beardshaw on our first ever Chelsea show garden which will ultimately form a great centrepiece for our community initiative.  Chris has considerable experience in working on community space projects and his design for the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities show garden fully embraces the core themes of our Healthy Cities programme . We are looking forward to working with Chris not only to produce a stunning garden for Chelsea, but also to relocate the garden as a lasting legacy for the benefit of the community.”

The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden will be located on Royal Hospital Way – Plot number RHW/8.  Having won the People’s Choice award for three years Chris is hoping to once again delight the many thousands of visitors to Chelsea with his plantsman’s passion for vibrant and luscious plant combinations which has become his signature and much admired style.

END

Notes to editors:
Renowned plantsman, designer and broadcaster Chris Beardshaw is involved with a wide range of horticultural projects and educational initiatives. His broadcasting career spans over 17 years and he can currently be heard as a regular panellist on Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and seen on BBC’s weekly Beechgrove Garden from April-October. For further details on all of Chris’ latest projects, please visit: www.chrisbeardshaw.com www.twitter.com/chrisbeardshaw        www.facebook.com/ChrisBeardshawGardenDesign

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services.  With offices in more than 43 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. . For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

The Healthy Cities programme builds on Morgan Stanley’s Global Alliance for Children’s Health, a commitment that has invested in innovations in pediatric care so that more children can get the healthy start they need for consistent and meaningful achievement in life. The flagship of the Global Alliance efforts is the Firm’s 40-year relationship with the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. More recently, Morgan Stanley created partnerships with international hospitals, including the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and Beijing Children's Hospital. Morgan Stanley employees play a critical role, lending expertise, financial support and sweat equity to benefit children’s centres across the globe. For more information about Healthy Cities, please visit www.morganstanley.com/healthycities

For media enquiries for Chris Beardshaw please contact: Jane Southcott pr, jane@janesouthcottpr.co.uk, t: 01275 852026 m: 07787 527430

For media enquiries for Morgan Stanley, please contact Hugh Fraser or Tom Walton at Morgan Stanley Hugh.fraser@morganstanley.com, t: 020 7425 3923 or 
Tom.walton@morganstanley.com, t: 020 7425 5658

Posted on January 5, 2015 .

An Evolutionary client

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I've had the pleasure of working with a 21st-century plant explorer recently.  A man who swapped a successful but depressing career in City banking to follow his passion for discovering and collecting seeds from plant species around the world. Tom Mitchell has spent the last five years setting up a nursery and growing a range of unusual, rare and exciting plants from his collected seeds and is now ready to sell the propagated plants to gardeners and plantsmen around the world, via his hugely informative website evolution-plants.com 

We planned two events. The first was a soft launch and thank you to his friends, family and key contacts, which was a joyous occasion, held in glowing autumn sunshine. The second event was a launch to the great and the good of the garden media. 

Several weeks of preparation and the press day came.  Everything was sorted, ready and waiting for the guests to arrive from around the country. However, the one thing I sadly can't organise, even after all these years is... the weather.  The morning was greeted with horizontal rain and howling winds.  As we prepared I admit I had to paint on a calm and relaxed smile for the benefit of Tom and his fabulous nursery team, in a bid to hide my growing concerns that actually no one in their right minds would set off in weather like this to attend any event. Thankfully the garden media are, as you might expect, rather hardy types and duly 21 of our guests battled their way through the elements to join us for what turned out to be a fabulous celebration of the start, of what I hope will be a great and well deserved success for Tom and Evolution Plants.  

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Coverage has already started coming in from a host of excellent bloggers who attended, including Tom himself with his Fifteen Minutes of Fame The Enduring GardenerVegplotting and one of gardening's wittiest bloggers Arabella Sock with The Lady Launches 

We just need gardeners to start buying all those gorgeous plants now - before I do!

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Posted on October 22, 2013 .

Event makers

I can’t really believe it’s a year ago today that I had butterflies in my stomach caused by the excitement - and for some reason nerves - that the 2012 British Olympics opening ceremony was about to happen.  What an incredible and totally unforgettable night it was too.  Far from being an anti-climax as so many of our pessimistic media had been hinting it would be, it completely blew me away and was the start of an incredible month of Olympic and Paralympic brilliance which made me incredibly proud to be British!

For me, one of the highlights and indeed much discussed legacies of the events were the achievements of the 70,000 Games Makers, who became a symbol of all that the British had hoped the Olympics would be - smiling, fun, helpful, inclusive and often downright barmy, which added a fabulous additional dimension to the games I hadn’t really considered before it began. 

Volunteering is something I have witnessed quite a bit of over the last few months.  In late spring I was asked to take on the role of head of pr for The Chelsea Fringe.  It’s an event, which as the name suggests, is a fringe event around the 100 year old RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and which is designed to be pretty much all the things the Chelsea Flower Show is not, or can be.  It is accepted by the RHS but is entirely independent of it.  Its founder and Director Tim Richardson launched the first highly successful Fringe in 2012 when over 100 volunteer run garden and gardening related projects sprouted up around London.

This year the number of projects doubled with more than 200 eclectic activities at venues across London and for the first time with satellite fringe events taking place in Bristol, Brighton, Kent and even Vienna, Austria. The only rules for a project to be able to join the Fringe is that they must be interesting, legal and inspired by gardening, gardens, plants or landscapes. This year’s incredibly line-up included pop-up gardens, art exhibitions, street installations, community gardening events and a host of talks and demonstrations.

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Being brought in late to the project as I was - about 7 weeks before its press launch - I have to confess was initially an earthquake style shock to my rather organised and probably terribly corporate approach to work. Trying to get a firm grasp of the details and stories behind 200 wildly diverse projects, being run by groups of willing volunteers and with no budget, was not the easiest to manage. I often describe my role in the first few weeks as akin to juggling jelly.  But what I was constantly in awe of throughout the project was the sheer passion and enthusiasm of the volunteers.

People were completely happy to give up their spare time after their day jobs, to help put together projects which would brighten and enlighten people around them and to share their love of gardens and gardening.  It was incredibly inspiring.  And once I had got myself into a position of some sort of organisation and the pr campaign began to take shape, the experience of working on the Fringe was certainly one I was proud to have been involved with. 

Also during busy May, I did find time to do a little volunteering myself.  Nothing on the scale of the Games or Fringe Makers of course, but I gave up a weekend to work on a show garden being created by my genius client, Chris Beardshaw, for Arthritis Research UK at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

I had been working on the pr of the show garden since the previous autumn when plans and strategies are put into place and media schedules considered.  The story for this garden was a pr gift, which Chris himself having sadly been diagnosed with a form of arthritis in his early teens.  The design was therefore intensely personal for him and provided a wonderfully passionate story behind the garden which the media were extremely and naturally very interested in.

Working for Chris and his partner Frances is I admit my dream job and I have to say that the months of work towards the show opening in May are always busy, but immensely satisfying.  However, my day of volunteering to work on the garden is perhaps one of the biggest highlights of my year.  Talking and writing about the garden for months builds an excitement and anticipation for the show.  I knew the garden design and the messages behind it inside out by May, but the day I physically walk into the show ground during the build in my high-vis and gardening gloves, always takes my breath away.  I have to confess that this year as I walked up to the garden, I rather embarrassingly burst into floods of tears, as it was so utterly beautiful and surpassed anything I had described or envisaged in the months before. 

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My volunteering contribution did not really amount to anything impressive. I swept up, watered plants, tidied and made cups of tea. I often just stared in wonderment at the plant combinations being put together by Chris and his fantastic team. However, just having had a small, hands-on involvement in the garden provided the most positive feeling and team spirit, which I can only imagine is what drives on the thousands of people who volunteer around the UK every year.

Giving money to charities is something I, like many of us, have always done. It’s an easy way to make you feel you are doing something to help. But actually giving of your time to support something you are truly passionate about is, I realise, so much more rewarding.  It’s something I hope I can make time to do more of in the future.

 

Posted on July 26, 2013 .

Drinking from the fire hose - DIY v the Professionals

The genius of digital cameras and the unbelievably good lenses on the latest mobile phones has lead to a phenomenal growth in amateur photos and videos being published and shared almost everywhere in the world.  Incredibly there is over 70 hours of video uploaded onto YouTube every minute and 25% of that is now coming from mobile phones.

This rise in DIY communication in recent years has been prolific and has generated some incredible viewing, from the instant heart stopping news footage of major events, through to giggle inspiring viral videos of dancing kittens, which imperceptibly find themselves on our screens.

So, now that everyone can write their own copy, (I couldn’t possibly comment!) take their own photos and produce their own video footage, is there still place for the highly trained professional?

I certainly think so, because the flip side of all this amazing DIY creativity is that, as the Americans’ would say, “We are drinking from the fire hose”. We are almost drowning in content, most of which is uncrafted and perhaps most importantly unedited. All that can really now differentiate your communication, particularly on a business platform, is its quality.

I have worked with photographer Martin Haswell for many years on both press and promotional photography for my clients.  Over the last year Martin has extended his photographic repertoire, with the introduction film and video production.  Martin uses his digital SLR camera to produce the videos and the quality is consequently exceptionally high and beautifully rich.  What he does, with whatever subject, is use his experience to consider the story around the brief and present a short and perfectly edited video, to evoke the key message, without being blatant or bland. 

He created one such video for my client, Chris Beardshaw. The brief I gave was to illustrate that in addition to Chris being an incredible garden designer, broadcaster and author - he is also a great speaker and lecturer for any audience.  This short video illustrates that message perfectly, by letting the viewer realise Chris’ innate skill as a speaker, through the voices and faces of the audience and by capturing a glimpse of Chris’ passion for communication. 

On a social platform, Martin has also produced a number of wedding videos which I think illustrate how critical editing and years of technical experience can perfectly encapsulate an entire wedding day in a few emotional minutes of crafted footage.   Watching this little video, transports you to the emotions of this entire big day in just under 3 minutes. 

So, I will always encourage my business clients, who can’t generally rely on the ‘cute’ or ‘hilarious’ to bring traffic to their services, to really consider investing in professionals to help their business stand out from an increasingly visual and vocal crowd.

Posted on March 22, 2013 .