My garden is assessed at 9.15 am by three assessors who ask me to detail any changes to the written brief. I point out the change to trees, addition of the blue planting in the foreground, that I chose the Betula nigra for it’s regenerating bark and colour, and that the plants are less advanced but that this adds to the sense of expectation and growth to fit the brief. Later in the week, after 5 days of solid hot sunshine the flowers are all in full blaze and grass flowers fully out – what a difference a week could make!
The assessors spend about another half an hour on the garden deciding whether I have met my brief and whether the garden is successful in what it set out to do.
On Monday morning, ‘Press Day’, at around 8am the Judges visit in a large group (approx 9 with another 5 at least in attendance). I stay well out of the way…….Another group that come around are the Moderators, who check that gardens awarded medals are of a similar standard across the board.
At 9.30 we have a photo call with Dawn Parker, Bradstone marketing manager, and Anna Jester, head of Bradstone communication present. Myself, Chris Beardshaw and Carlo Laurenzi, the CEO from the London Wildlife Trusts, are all photographed on the garden. I have offered to donate the sculpture to the London Centre for Wildlife Gardening along with the trees, as I wanted as much as possible of the garden to be reused and recycled. I also take immense pleasure from wildlife and the natural environment and am enormously inspired by it.
At the same time a photographer from the Oxford Mail and Times introduces herself and I am interviewed later in the day. A steady stream of people with very expensive looking cameras visit the garden through the day and I wonder where all the photos will be used. At 12.30 BBC Oxford Radio interview me live for about 7 minutes which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. At one point it is particularly load and the mic and crew of three draw in very close to me so that I almost fall over! Various celebrities, actors and TV personalities come round too!
At 3.30 the press mostly seem to leave and I am left on my garden whilst the Royal visit begins. After what seems like a while various very smart cars with crests and flags pull past the garden and we know they have arrived! The queen spends time in the Pavilion and draws a large excited crowd. I find it quite moving when she is introduced to members of the armed forces, some with 3 limbs as prosthetics, to the rapturous sounds of a brass band.
Prince Andrew comes round to our area and we spend a short while discussing my gardens initial inspiration of kites!
My husband James arrives as the Royal visit continues and the Gala evening starts. The highlight of this for me was being allowed to climb up Diarmid Gavin’s Scaffold Pyramid. I made it to about the 6th tier but then decided I didn’t fancy the slide in my skirt and heals and would have to go down several steep ladders backwards!!!