Johnny Walkers needs a minimum of 2,000 flowers to create his stand for Chelsea Flower Show.
Realistically though, he wants 8,000 cut flowers in cold store before leaving for Chelsea.
The initial stand is made up of 2,000 flowers, but if the weather is very hot, the team will re-stage some of the flowers on Wednesday night and again on Friday night.
Johnny says: “My aim always is that the general public who have paid good money to go to the show on Friday and Saturday will see as good a show as the Queen saw on Monday evening before the show opened.”
The stand reflects the season and this year’s late start meant there was a real possibility it would be made up entirely of outdoor flowers, something that hasn’t happened for 20 years.
In fact, both outdoor and forced bulbs were used, which presents its own problems as outdoor grown flowers are bigger, and have a stronger colour and stem.
However, there are benefits as Johnny was able to use varieties that don’t force well in the greenhouse, such as doubles Acropolis and Gay Kybo.
When the flowers are being cut, Johnny has to remember that some varieties change colour as they mature, for instance starting with lime yellow petals that turn white, and so he has to cut all those flowers at the same stage.
Johnny picks most of them himself, but admits he is trying to train a couple of people to help him.
It is possible to keep the flowers as fresh as the day they were picked in buckets of water in the cold store for up to three weeks. The entire Chelsea stand is kept in a refrigerated lorry overnight, going out at the last minute ready for judging on Monday morning.