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Some of you may have noticed the 3D carpet bedding figure that has formed part of the seasonal summer bedding display in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park. Gilbert, loosely modelled on one of the park's stalwart gardeners and named by one of our younger visitors to the allotment garden, has stood at the entrance adjacent to Chester Road Gates for two of the past three summer seasons enthralling visitors as they enter the Gardens. Intended as a homage to the skill, effort and dedication of the gardeners within Queen Mary's Gardens, the 3D nature of the piece adds a sense of fun, contributes to the horticultural richness and adds another dimension to the Gardens.

Floral Gardener

This year things are a little different...

Towards the end of last summer I was approached via the park office by Peter Endesby and Lynette Talbot, both active members of Sidmouth in Bloom in East Devon. For those of you that are not aware 'Britain In Bloom' is a national competition administered by the Royal Horticultural Society that aims to improve quality of life for communities through gardening. Peter and Lynette had an interesting proposition for me, could Gilbert take a holiday and spend this Summer in Sidmouth as the centre piece of their Sidmouth in Bloom display. Almost never one to resist a challenge, I set about discussing how we might make an arrangement work.

East Devon council have been using various pieces of 3D carpet bedding for many years and it soon became plausible to think that we might be able to engineer an exchange with Gilbert going off to Sidmouth and something coming up to Regent's Park in return. The logistics were fairly straightforward - we agreed transportation and a fair and equitable allocation of costs and then it was just down to making the choice of what we might receive in return.

...This is where Stephen comes in. There were Peacocks, Hippopotamus's, Snakes and even a dinosaur to choose from, however I felt that Stephen, for some reason, just looked like he might play the part well.

The exchange took place in the autumn of 2012 and this spring John (nursery manager for Meredith's at Regent's Park) has been under taking the task of planting circa 3000 plug plants to cloth Stephen in a fine array of colour and texture. Initially the framework was filled with blocking compost which holds together and the plug plants are pushed into the compost through the framework. The plants quickly root out into the compost and we add a slow release fertiliser which gives a steady release of nutrient over 2-3 months to aid plant establishment. The frame also has a series of drip tubing which is connected to the water supply to allow for irrigation from the inside. We have used a range of species including Echeveria, Ajuga, Sedum and Alternanthera.

Horticultural Elephant

Stephen took up his temporary residence on Thursday 27th June and will be on site until mid-September - why not make a trip to see how he looks in his temporary holiday home.

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