Selling Houses Australia landscaper, Charlie Albone, recently won up big at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Charlie took home a Silver Gilt Medal for his lush Husqvarna Garden design, where he was up against some of the top designers in the world and even brushed shoulders with royalty!
LifeStyle HOME chatted to Charlie about his win, his design and meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Congratulations on such an incredible win! What was the inspiration around your garden?
There’s a certain feeling I get when I get home on a Friday afternoon after a crazy busy week and I can take a breath and spend a few hours in the garden. Its those few hours that totally relax me and its that feeling I wanted to recreate. The garden for this year’s show was based in Melbourne and I wanted to show the wide variety of plants that can be grown there (with a bit of irrigation of course!)
What was it like to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry?
Meeting the royals was totally surreal! Their faces would be the most recognizable in the whole world and there they are in front of me talking about a garden I had built. The Duke and Duchess were interested in the plants and Prince Harry was so down to earth and genuinely interested in the process of building a garden. I invited them into the garden, and they seemed really keen for a tour but the time keepers with them put a stop to that quickly – most disappointing!
How long did it take to create and construct your garden design?
The garden was designed the week after Chelsea 2015 and all the paper work had to be in and submitted for approval by the 10th of August. Once approved in early November the REAL planning began.
We had 19 days on site to build the garden and we started work at 7.15am and got kicked out of the site every night at 8.30pm. There’s not a day off and it’s a hugely intense process where you battle fatigue and tensions are high – saying that its one of the best times you’ll ever have as the comradery between the team and teams around you is amazing, it’s a very rewarding process.
What factors did you need to consider around the build of the garden considering the London climate?
We were lucky with the weather this year as it was relatively warm during the build and we only had 3-4 days of rain during the whole process. No matter the weather the build must go on but it’s the plants that are the difficult element to control.
If it’s too cold they don’t flower and if it’s too hot the flowers may be over, luckily I can pass the stress of dealing with this over to my plant grower Dave Root from Kelways Plants (no its not a joke my plant growers surname is Root).
How did you come up with the concept for the garden?
Unlike designing a garden for a client you have no starting point or constraints such as trees or slope to deal with (apart from the block size) so its hard to get started on a concept. My previous garden was based in Sydney so Melbourne was an easy choice for this garden and my previous garden was very organic so I wanted to do something formal.
A piece of paper and a pencil is the best way for me to start jotting down some designs and layouts, a bit of a break away from it for a few days and then back into it finalizing each element.
What happens to the garden once the show is finished? Does it get reassembled anywhere else?
In the last hour and a half of the show they have a ‘sell off’ where people can come and buy plants off you, the rule is - cash and they have to take it there and then – usually home on the tube! I also sent some plants to The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington where I usually stay when I’m in London and they will be exhibiting them for the summer months.
We then recycle what we can, steel, aluminum and stone with the remainder of the garden going to a re-use scheme run by the RHS where they build a public garden from everybody’s leftovers.
Andrew Winter was recently in London and you walked him through the garden, I guess this is one design he couldn't take credit for! What did he think of it?
Andrew was his typical self – a few backhanded complements, but nothing too glowing of course! It was nice to take Andrew's father through the garden as he was a keen gardener in his younger years and he really appreciated it.
Take a look through Charlie's beautiful design below!