My Chelsea experience: Lottie Delamain
Jodie Jones goes behind the scenes of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to meet the designers and gardeners working hard to make this year's event a roaring success, including first-time Chelsea designer Lottie Delamain
Everyone’s experience of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is slightly different. For most of us it’s a great day out – the opportunity to find inspiration in the show gardens, discover new plants from the country’s leading nurseries and partake in some serious retail therapy. But what does it mean for those who are involved in the show?
“The whole thing still feels surreal,” says first-time Chelsea designer Lottie Delamain. “Seeing my name on the RHS website alongside so many award-winning designers is astonishing and, frankly, a bit scary.”
Until five years ago Lottie was working as a textile designer in Vietnam, and it was this experience that has inspired her Textile Garden for the charity Fashion Revolution, which will be one of the All About Plants gardens in the Great Pavilion. “We used to go trekking in the north of the country and stay with families who grew their own vegetables and rice, but also indigo and hemp to make clothes. They certainly didn’t make everything they wore, but their ceremonial robes were richly storied treasures that spoke of a place, a time and a person,” says Lottie.
“It was so different from our Western taste for fast fashion, and that’s what I’m trying to express through this garden. It will include the historic British dye plants madder, woad and weld, planted in blocks to give the impression of a woven textile. The underlying message is that we should make the most of what we have available.
“I’ve always loved that sense of theatre and magic at Chelsea, as whole worlds are conjured out of thin air. Now I’m behind the scenes and experiencing how many moving parts are necessary to make that magic happen. But I am surrounded by the best of the best and so very grateful for all the support and advice I am getting from the old hands at the show. Of course it is still terrifying. Everything comes together at the last minute, which means that a lot of the elements are built in separate places ahead of the show. Whether they actually all add up to a worthy show garden is, at the end of the day, entirely down to me. I just hope that I have measured and calculated everything correctly. This year the buck stops with me.”
RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place 24-28 May 2022
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