The RHS Hyde Hall Flower Show is the garden’s biggest event, attracting about 17,000 visitors over four days. However, it’s a challenging prospect for staff to turn a quiet corner of the garden into a bustling show site.
The site where the show is located was deliberately chosen as it provides easy access for visitors, has great views down to the lake and is relatively flat. Then came about the task of transforming the area into a suitable venue capable of accommodating about 60 exhibitors, numerous pop-up catering facilities and an influx of people.
First, the grass cutting regime had to change for both the show site and the overflow car park. Whereas the grass on the show site was previously long with mown pathways running through it, it is now is kept short. Equally, the fields along the entrance road, which act as overflow car parking, are now maintained by our tenant farmer who cuts the grass in exchange for the hay crop he takes.
Additional services also had to be laid, including extra irrigation points so that the exhibitors can water their plant stock. Luckily for us we are self-sufficient in terms of water, thanks to a 45 million litre (10 million gallon) reservoir, so there’s no danger of the plants drying out. A fresh water supply was also laid for the catering outlets.
The show opening approaches
In the run-up to the show, the garden team will mark out the exact locations of the marquees, lay out irrigation pipes and water butts and position generators. Just outside the garden an exhibitor village is also set up with showers, toilets and electrical hook up. The final task is to put up signage and rope walkways. We then welcome contractors and exhibitors who need a couple of days to set up.
Once the show starts it’s very much a case of coping with the additional volume of visitors. Practically every department will be staffed to the max and in addition, an army of volunteers is also drafted in to help. Then it’s a case of ensuring the facilities are kept well serviced, so lots of emptying bins, litter picking, checking toilets and re-stocking. It’s at this stage we keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have any equipment breakdowns!
Long after the show has ended and things have returned to normal, the turf team begins to tackle the problem of alleviating soil compaction on the show site. Therefore, the autumn lawn care programme involves slitting and hollow-core tining to aerate the lawn and encourage a strong root system. But it’s amazing how resilient grass can be as in no time at all it’s looking green once more.
Then before we know it, our thoughts turn to planning the next show…
So if you’re coming along to the flower show, which runs from Thursday 30 July to Sunday 2 August, we do hope that you have an enjoyable day out, and please spare a thought for all the staff that help to make the show a success.