This my 23rd year of exhibiting… hard to believe! It’s an experience that’s difficult to describe, stressfull, exhilarating, exciting, a privilege, hard work but always worth all the effort. It has become the main focus of my exhibiting year with months of planning leading up to a great week.
It is a welĺ rehearsed routine, finely tuned over the years but there are often a few surprises. Months of preparation ends with me packing the car with alĺ my framed pictures, cards, prints, books, the counter, lights, plants and flooring for the stand. Choosing my clothes for the week is always a challenge as we have had everything from a heat wave to torrential downpours over the years!
The week begins on Sunday with an early start, driving down from Shropshire to Chelsea. We organise my display when we arrive, it is usually a 5 to 6 hour job which includes laying the floor, erecting the lights, hanging the pictures, assembling the counter and finally arranging the plants. The RHS judge our display so the pressure is on!
Monday is Press day, we are knee deep in celebrities all morning and usually see the Queen and accompanying royals in the afternoon. Overall it is a day to look at the gardens up close, take lots of photographs, catch up with other exhibitors and enjoy the whole experience before the crowds arrive on Tuesday. In the evening it is the Gala with music, champagne and canapés, I admit…it’s not all work!
Its a busy week with long days as the show is open 8am to 8pm. We meet established and new customers who chat and buy, adding to their collection or hopefully starting one!
There are highlights for me every year, something special resulting from exhibiting here. This year an invitation to the Chelsea Physic Garden to teach a course next year. I had a private tour of the garden, which was such a privilege and I took lots of photographs for inspiration. I am really looking forward to working with them next year.
I was also lucky enough to meet the Australian women who are responsible for the 5000 Poppies. They visited my stand and we enjoyed a mutual admiration moment or two. It was such an amazing project and I was so pleased to meet them.Well, as always the week slips by and then its time to go home, unpack and lie down in a dark room. I plan to do it all again next year!