The story of the Headway Shropshire Show Garden continues!  The paved stone labyrinth and metal head water feature have now been laid permanently in the garden at Headway Shropshire, by garden designer Mike Russell and his team with assistance from Lanyon Bowdler.  This is to be a lasting tribute to the hard work and dedication put into the project by all involved, which resulted in us winning Best Outdoor Show Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show in August.

Rachel went along to the Headway Shropshire offices this morning and met up with Jean Robinson, Chief Executive, Anne Ryan, Chair of the Headway Shropshire Board, and Frank Buzzard, Case Manager, to have a look at the garden and take some photos.

Headway Garden at the Centre

The Labyrinth and Water Feature are Laid

She told me that it looked wonderful, and everyone at Headway Shropshire is just delighted with it.  They were joined by one of the Headway clients, together with Mike Russell garden designer and his team, and Neil Lorimer partner at Lanyon Bowdler, for a group photo to commemorate the laying of the stone and water feature, and also the continuation of the story!

Group Shot

A Great Group Shot - many of those involved in the project

The plan now is for Headway Shropshire to take the garden forward as their own, and they are hoping to include a willow archway and build in some flower beds so that the look is very similar to that of the original show garden.  Obviously the work is going to be done over time, but this means that the clients at the centre can continue to have the focus of a garden project.

With Winter approaching, any new work will now need to wait until Spring, however watch this space for progress!

Now we have had a little time to ‘catch up’ back at the office, I have finally been able to look at how we can lay the labyrinth (complete with the water feature character!) at Headway Shropshire, thus giving the clients and staff a long lasting memory of this amazing project.

Head sculpture

The winning head sculpture

And it’s looking good – further generous offerings from Mike Russell, Chris Bromley and Lanyon Bowdler, together with a contribution from the local charity, will mean this wonderfully magical creation will live out its days at the Headway Shropshire centre on Oxon Business Park in Shrewsbury.

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks (fingers crossed once again for decent weather!), the stone will be laid, the water feature fitted and our comical head – created from old Land Rover parts, will take centre stage.  So keep an eye on this blog as the final piece of the jigsaw, this project has become, is put into place.

The finished Headway Shropshire garden

The finished Headway Shropshire show garden

I am absolutely delighted to report that our garden WON at Shrewsbury Flower Show on Friday 13 August.  Having worked on it until really late on Thursday evening, we were back on site for 7am to do the finishing touches.  Mike was happy with the rainfall over night – the garden looked mature and glistened from a fresh shower.

TV gardener Chris Beardshaw was one of the judges and he came over for a preliminary look at the garden at around 8.15am.  We then waited and waited for the judges to come back and judge the garden properly.  I had to go off and ‘look after’ the Hairy Bikers so was relying on Rachel to keep me posted.  I had just been tipped off that the BBC were on their way over to interview Mike, so I gave Rachel a call – the BBC were already there, and apparently we had just been judged.  It could only have been a couple of minutes later when she rang to say we had won!!  I was with Lanyon Bowdler‘s managing partner David Battisby at the time, and so we both whooped with joy!

Not only had we won, but we received a Gold Certificate – fantastic, and a tribute to all those who have been involved in this wonderful journey.  Chief Executive of Headway Shropshire, Jean Robinson, was present on Friday, of course she was thrilled.  We had clients from the centre there too – it continued to be a great team effort over Friday and Saturday as the number of visitors to the garden were high.

Close up of the water feature

A close up of the water feature

Mike has received plenty of enquiries – the quality of the work clearly evident.  His team – including son Christy Russell, Chris Bromley & Marty Salisbury were brilliant – spending hours and hours putting it all together (and sadly today, taking it apart).

We aren’t quite finished yet, more photos and some thank you’s will follow tomorrow or Tuesday.  It has been a great, but extremely tiring weekend!!!

Some of the team

Some of the team in the garden

We have been lucky with the weather (although today isn’t looking so great), and we have been so fortunate to have a team of fantastic volunteers, who have worked extremely long hours in order to create a stunning garden.  Mike Russell has certainly designed the most amazing show piece and I am so grateful to him for all the time he has given, in order to achieve the finished project.


Fantastic plants and veg fill the garden

We are nearly there now – today will consist of all the finishing touches and fine detail extras.

Yesterday evening the water feature received some TLC and it now looks as though it has been established for years.  The wheel (which can just be seen at the top of the photo below), when turned, regulates the flow of the water – such detail!

Water feature

A well established water feature

The head sculpture, made from old Land Rover parts, has a character all of its own – it made me smile when I saw it – made me think of Wizard of Oz or, as someone suggested, a Tim Burton movie, take a look below.


He looks a real character

And so at 9am tomorrow morning judging will take place.  Results will be out at 11.30am and so I have everything crossed for all those who have spent so much time – most of it on a voluntary basis – to receive the credit and recognition they deserve!  I won’t be able to add to this blog until Sunday, but if you want to find out how we do follow @amanjon on twitter.  Or better still – come and see us at The Shrewsbury Flower Show – Friday 13 and  Saturday 14 August 2010.


Stained glass

The piece of stained glass featuring in the arbour

Mike Russell and his team of landscapers have been hard at work in The Quarry – venue for Shrewsbury Flower Show, since the end of last week.

On my first trip to see them, the labyrinth was taking shape…..


The labyrinth is laid

At the weekend the most amazing arbour had been installed and the oak had been cut to form the raised beds……


Arbour & oak raised beds

Mike and his team are superb craftsmen, the finishes being applied to the oak sleepers is pure quality.  I don’t really know what I was expecting, but this isn’t just any garden, it really is a masterpiece.

Today the art boards have arrived!  And don’t they look magnificant?


The boards will run across the back of the garden

The water feature is looking good – Chris has made a stunning job of the wood surrounding it.

Any finally, a photo of the team – they have really put in the hours – working most of the weekend.  I am so grateful.


Team Shot!

The art boards are finished – they will feature at the back of the garden – behind the arbour and the fruit trees, and slightly up the sides.  The clients at Headway Shropshire have spent an enormous amount of time creating these and they are amazing.

Painted Board

One of the Boards

They have created 12 boards in total – we are going to have some fun next week selecting which one goes where.

A board

A Real Splash of Colour

The boards will have a protective finish applied prior to facing the elements.  Obviously we hope for some sunshine as the metalic gold paint particularly will look so pretty with the sun glinting off it.


Metalic Gold Features on the Boards

This time next week construction begins, I’ll be posting photos of the garden as it starts to take shape for the Shrewsbury Flower Show on Friday 13  and Saturday 14 August.  Hopefully by the end of the day on Thursday 12 August it will be finished, the video will be completed and we’ll be ready to enjoy showing it off to the public, our friends and clients of Headway Shropshire – it should be an enjoyable couple of days.


Lined up Ready for the Show

Definitely our number one garden journalist – Dawn Humphries lets us have her latest comments.

But before that, she has noticed the wonderful beehive composters which are in residence in one of Lanyon Bowdler’s meeting rooms at the Shrewsbury office and wondiers if they will need a home after the Show!

Beehive Composter

On Loan from Wiggly Wigglers - a Beehive Composter

They are rather amazing pieces of wood – larger than I thought they would be.  The plan is to house the speakers for the Podcasts in them.  People, wandering round the garden – either inside it or on the outside, will be able to listen to how and why the Garden came to be.

Diary entry

“Two weeks to go and things are hotting up and competition is fierce amongst the plan sitters.  I hear whispers on the Lanyon Bowdler grape vine, that replacement plantings have not only been contemplated but already purchased, I name no names…

Julie brought hers in today (all home grown) as an early delivery.  Alas, they are all much bigger than mine, but size isn’t everything!!!!!  Still there is much to be gained… plant food that, will be my weapon of choice.  I must keep my eye on the ball and an intensive watering and feeding programme will follow… (still will not be up to the polytunnel professionals.. of which I have already been shown comparative photographic evidence, of the much superior virtues of the said tunnel…not sure how I can fit one in for next year……).  My little pots, are however, bred on love, encouragement and the odd curse.. I shall carry on gladly watering and feeding look forward to the big day…..   This is all on top of watering Kathryn’s plants, who had gleefully gone on holiday and left me in charge of watering her 94 pots, now should I feed hers too or not?

“I must remind myself it is the taking part that matters (and it has been enormous fun and very worthwhile).”

Thanks Dawn – to you and everyone else who has helped with this project – ‘we couldn’t have done it without you’!!

The clock is really ticking now, but our band of merry volunteers continue to work in their gardens in order to produce some fantastic produce for our Shrewsbury Flower Show show garden.

PI solicitor Dawn Humphries has been a star at keeping her garden journal, but take a look at this photo – such a stylish gardener!

Dawn Humphries

Dawn Waters the Garden

And here is her latest entry:

“I now realise that gardening, like life, is littered with highs and lows, and sadly the odd fatality.  It is with regret that I inform you of the tragic demise of a courgette, several cabbages, and four purple sprouting broccoli!

“As I write this dispatch, I am threatened by sustained and devastating airborne attack on my beautiful blue brassica’s, who now bear shrapnel wounds … (in remarkably distinct munch shaped detail of the white cabbage butterfly’s caterpillar).  I am having the dental records assessed.

“The after school snipers have been skilful in their stealth like attempts to sabotage my sugar snaps, but have been thwarted by my warlike cries of “bath time” and “homework”.  My leeks stand tall and are unaffected by the casualties of war.

“But, despite such devastation, my pride is the last standing Courgette, which is now in full bloom, and all being well, may be heavily laden by D day (I just wish it wasn’t Friday the 13th).”

Another solicitor has already had to harvest the peas!

Her feedback included “On last count we had 94 pots containing peas, beans, marigolds, another flower, name currently escaping me, lots and lots of brassicas, some parsley, chives and basil.  We had to harvest the peas as they were about to pull the plants over (they were very tasty), the beans are also doing well.  The marigolds and other flowers are thinking of flowering fairly soon. ”

Back at Headway Shropshire, Mike Russell has been along this week to check on progress.  Everything is growing well and looking healthy.  The painted boards apparently are looking even more magnificent than before – is that really possible!  I wonder if there will be interest to buy these – would raise some great funds for the charity.

Art boards

Such colour

We owe a massive thank you to Howard Dartnall from Moathouse TV, Sam Taylor from Tinker Taylor and Ben Lewis from Siwel Productions for their time in creating our video commercial for the Shrewsbury Flower Show.  Having seen the first production I know it is going to be sensational – very moving shots of some of the clients working on the garden at Headway Shropshire and in the art room.

Once we have it in the finished format, we will be able to run it on our respective websites and of course upload to You Tube.  We are going to have a short 90 second promo version, as well as the longer 3 min footage – so no reason why we shouldn’t get plenty of coverage during the 2 show days.

The water feature – of which a head sculpture is the key component, is coming together.  Using old parts of Land Rovers – thanks to Britpart – the head will depict cogs – symbolic of Headway Shropshire and one of their logos.

Emma Alston

Emma working on the sculpture

Our garden designer, Mike Russell took these shots.  It is through him that we came across Emma Alston, pictured above, who was delighted with the opportunity of working on this garden project, the charity is very close to her heart.

Ben and Dave

Coming together

Can’t wait to see the finished article – it certainly is looking interesting!

It was apparent that the recent wet weather has been most welcome in the Headway Shropshire garden as the plants seem to have progressed in leaps and bounds!  Suddenly, everything has burst into life and had a growth spurt, from the tomatoes and courgettes, to the marigolds and sunflowers.


Brightly coloured Marigolds

Rachel visited the garden this morning and said she was amazed at how quickly the courgettes had appeared after only being re-potted several weeks ago during the horticultural workshop.  I didn’t know that they produce huge yellow flowers, which look lovely, however Rachel found out the hard way that their leaves are very prickly on the underside!


Flowering Courgettes

Apparently the sweet peas are all a beautiful pink colour and flourishing, the marigolds a vivid orange, and the carrots, sweetcorn and runner beans are all looking healthy and robust! So this is all looking good as Show Day is only 3 weeks away!

The art room is still a hive of activity (there is actually very little visible floor space!), the clients continue to make copper wire butterflies, and are covering them with angeline material.  Rachel took a photo of a book that was open on one desk with beautiful colour pictures of moths and butterflies ready to be copy sketched, so the theme is obviously a popular one!

Open Book

Ready for sketching

It is great to see just how this project has caught the imagination of the clients and staff at Headway Shropshire.  I am delighted that Lanyon Bowdler has been able to offer such a fantastic opportunity.

As we are now on count down to the Shrewsbury Flower Show – I’ve got to the stage where I just can’t wait to see the finished garden.