Project Management: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017


Client: James Alexander Sinclair / The RHS


James is a longish-term client of mine, and knows that I’ve managed a few projects at Chelsea before. He’d been approached by the RHS to design one of their five sensory gardens but is a very busy man, so asked me to project manage it. A new addition for 2017, these were five 10 x 10m gardens each with a theme – touch, smell, taste, sound and sight. He was asked to design the one for sound, and after BBC Radio 2 came on board, the full name ended up as The Zoe Ball Listening Garden.

My role included doing any required graphics – the visuals you can see here as well as all the technical ones, rather a lot of paperwork, and making sure the the contractor (Crocus), planting team, nurseries and show week staff got themselves and/or their deliveries to where they were supposed to be at the time they were due to make the magic happen.

This was an incredibly exciting project, thanks in no small part to the brilliant team at Elephonic Sound. This group of sound engineers, nerds, techies and outright geniuses were the ones who turned what was a solid design into somthing magical, by using technology called “cymatics” to turn soundwaves into ripples, splashes and waves in the troughs. I would be lying if I said that this was tried-and-tested technology and that we all went to sleep every night safe in the knowledge that it would all work out. Quite the opposite, with several of us having rather adverse reactions to the angst!

Of course everything came together and the garden was a massive success with visitors, the RHS, and even the  Royals turned up to have a look!


My favourite picture from the Royal visit – mself (back, second from right) and Humaira (back right) watching as the Queen, Monty Don and the RHS Director, Sue Biggs, walk past.


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