Sarah\'s stand for David Harber at RHS Chelsea in 2014
Sarah Naybour offers advice having designed three trade stands for big clients at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Don’t underestimate the level of quality needed. At RHS Chelsea, trade stands are on a par with the show gardens in terms of the build, planting and detailing. Work with a contractor who has done a trade stand or show garden before.
A trade stand has a different function to a show garden. You’re selling a product, and you must keep the product and client in mind. This year, for Schellevis, I did a split-level design – the lower level was a residential gravel garden and the upper level was an urban terrace, designed to appeal to landscape architects.
Functionality is very important. People can walk into the garden, so you need to control the flow. You need to draw them in, and help them out. You also need to provide shelter. David Harber wanted a place where people could gather, plus a private area where they could discuss sales.
Be prepared for a tight budget. Clients have to rent their space from the RHS, which can impact on the design and build budget. You will need to call in favours.
The process can begin a year before. We discussed David Harber’s next stand at the previous year’s show. Schellevis approached me four weeks after RHS Chelsea last year. A concept and layout is submitted to the RHS in the autumn – they don’t ask for a planting plan.
It’s a great opportunity. During the build, you meet lots of people, and everyone is very helpful. I met Schellevis at last year’s show. Being involved at RHS Chelsea also excites your clients, and winning a decent medal shows that you can organise and deliver a garden on time, to a budget. Doing a trade stand can be invaluable if you want to go on to do a show garden.