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Pro Landscaper

May 2015

Dave Root and his nursery manager Gary House walk the Kelways site every day, checking the development of the plants to be supplied to seven Main Avenue and Fresh Show Gardens as well as thousands more for last minute additions and trade stands.

Dave has spent much of the last four months accompanying clients on trips around the UK and Europe, selecting trees and larger plants for their gardens, including cacti from southern Spain for Sarah Eberle and trees from Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium for Kamelia Bin Zaal and Charlie Albone.

The nursery has numerous growing areas and holding zones, each with a different environment suitable for quick growing annuals, herbs, wildflowers and other plants harvested from around the world.

Dave said "Chelsea demands the best plants and this often means sourcing outside the UK, particularly for the tropical, Australian and arid plants."

Among the highlights are the fast growing peonies and some unusual species of Cyathea.

Horticulture Week

6th-19th March 2015

Willerby Details Project Challenges

Willerby Landscapes commerical director John Melmoe had nothing but praise for plant supplier Kelways, which has just two days' notice to supply the trees. SOurcing expert Dave Root had to find plant material that would survive in an indoor unheated space that can get very hot in the sun.

"It was challenging to say the least. Dave Root loves his plants and he gives his all. They lived the dream for two years sourcing plants from around the world, bartering with people in Italy over a bottle of wine for plants they did not want to sell."

Somerset County Gazette

February 5th 2015

Langport apprentice Rob Parsons - youngest exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show

Article in Somerset County Gazette featuring our very own apprentice plant hunter, Rob Parsons who at 20 years of age will be potentially the youngest ever Chelsea exhibitor. Just a note though, we haven't been turning up at Chelsea for 30+ years before it started! But we are one of only a handful of exhibitors who showed at the very first Chelsea Flower Show in 1913.

Read more

The National (Abu Dhabi Newspaper)

February 5th 2015

Kamelia Bin Zaal's journey to the Chelsea Flower Show

When Kamelia Bin Zaal recently flew to Alicante, Spain, for her second European plant-hunting trip in as many months, she embarked on a very specific mission.

Bin Zaal’s goal was not only to find the trees that would provide the wow-factor for The Beauty of Islam, her entry for the forthcoming 2015 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, but also to unearth the plants that might even help her win the competition’s ultimate prize.

Bin Zaal will celebrate a triple debut when she unveils her garden to the RHS judges on May 19. Not only will it be the first time that Bin Zaal and her sponsor, Dubai’s Al Barari Firm Management, have submitted a garden to the world’s most prestigious horticultural event, but The Beauty of Islam will also be the first Chelsea show garden to have been designed by an Emirati. It’s a prospect that Bin Zaal looks forward to with a mixture of nerves and excitement.

“This is the gardening equivalent of the Oscars,” the Dubai- based designer explains.

Read more

Pro Landscaper Magazine

February 2015

Kelways Duo of Grand Pavilion Exhibits gains Momentum

Kelways Plants, one of the oldest nurseries in the UK who have been exhibiting at RHS shows since 1880 are preparing for their greatest duo of exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show ever. They will cover over 60m2 of that hallowed turf in the Grand Pavilion.
Best known for their peonies, Kelways 2015 exhibit will showcase some of the more recent hybrids of the Intersectional Group. These wonderful plants, crosses between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies, have lustrous green foliage, a neat bushy habit and large blooms in an extraordinary range of colours. Hilary with enormous apricot blooms is a showstopper. Callie’s Memory has semi-double flowers of buff orange with dark red flares. Lollipop is a crazy pale yellow bloom, splattered randomly with deep-pink paint splashes. “After recently being showcased by Charlie Dimmock on the Great British Garden Revival, it will be great to bring these fantastic garden plants to Chelsea” says Dave.
Kelways tree peonies will take on a fresh twist for the 2015 show. They will be displayed in the style of a Japanese peony garden where paper parasols would be placed above the plants protecting them from both the midday sun and the snow. This part of the exhibit will even be covered in artificial snow for added authenticity, and also a touch of fun!
Alongside their floral extravaganza of peonies and irises will be Kelways first ever exhibit of tree ferns, representing Australasia in the Floral Continents area of the Grand Pavilion. The exhibit will be staged amongst a grove of slender eucalyptus trees which will tower to 6m nearly touching the roof of the Grand Pavilion. Kelways intend showing at least 15 species of tree ferns, including the rare Cyathea robusta from Lord Howe Island, and some beautiful and slender Cyathea cunninghamii, the Gully Fern from both Australia and New Zealand. The exhibit will also feature the Silver Tree Fern Cyathea dealbata, the National Emblem of New Zealand, with its incredible silver fronds.
Leading Kelways Tree Fern exhibit will be Dave’s apprentice Rob Parsons, who at just 20 years old will be the youngest exhibitor at the 2015 Show. “I am so excited to give Rob the opportunity to create what has been my personal Chelsea dream for over 20 years” says Dave, “Rob is supremely passionate about his tree ferns, and it is so refreshing to nurture and encourage young talent in the horticultural industry.”
Slightly older, but at just 23 is Gary House, Kelways Nursery manager; the young man responsible for looking after all the plants for the 7 Gardens for which Kelways are the main plant supplier, 21,000 plants in all. Working with Dave, it’s a huge responsibility but a challenge that Gary and the team at Kelways rise to every year. Kelways Chelsea clients this year are Ruth Willmott, Darren Hawkes, Charlie Albone, Sarah Eberle, Adam Frost, James Basson, and Kamelia Bin Zaal. “Wow, what a line-up” says Dave. “The gardens at Chelsea 2015 will be some of the most diverse that have been seen in recent years; four of our designers are new to Main Avenue, which is even more exciting!”

BBC2 - The Great British Garden Revival

January 21st 2015


Gardeners try to save the nation's gardening heritage. Diarmuid Gavin flies the flag for wildlife gardens and Charlie Dimmock praises peonies.

Western Morning News

January 16th 2015


A Cornish garden designer has teamed up with Brewin Dolphin to create its fourth show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The Exeter-based wealth management firm will be working with Fowey-based designer Darren Hawkes who makes his second Chelsea appearance.

The garden will be filled with mature English Elms and familiar hedgerow plants evoking a shared memory of the British countryside and a cultural heritage. This, coupled with the use of traditional materials, will reflect Brewin Dolphin’s place within the financial market as a long established and highly respected business working with clients over generations.

The garden will draw on Brewin Dolphin’s heritage, but will also reflect their forward thinking approach to business and ability to evolve and adapt to changes in the financial and wider world.

This forward thinking attitude is represented in the layout of the garden with unconventional floating platforms as a means of navigating through the space, bringing a sense of exploration, playfulness and wonder to those who enter.

Tim Walker, Head of Brewin Dolphin in Exeter said: “We are thrilled to be working with Darren Hawkes to create another undoubtedly beautiful and interesting garden at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Every year we are incredibly proud to showcase our garden to the public and our clients. We are expecting great things from Darren and are glad to be part of his progression.”

Mr Hawkes was awarded a RHS Silver-Gilt medal for his 2013 Chelsea Show Garden for SeeAbility.

He got the Chelsea bug and has been developing this idea over the past two years.

He has worked in the industry for nearly twenty years, cutting his teeth as a landscape gardener before turning freelance designer.

Having worked in London for 10 years he moved to Cornwall and established Wheelbarrow, a high end design and landscaping business. This grew quickly prompting a second business, Darren Hawkes Landscapes devoted to design-only projects.

The contractor for the Brewin Dolphin Garden 2015 will be Bowles and Wyer, and the plants are being supplied by Kelways Plants, Somerset.

English Garden

June 2014


Dave Root talks about his three favourite irises-Langport Wren, Sable and Butterscotch Kiss

Garden News

May 31st 2014


"Peonies have an undeserved reputation for being difficult to move but that's because they tend to be planted too deep after moving. The best time to move them is in autumn. Make sure the crown of the plant is no more than 5cm (2in) below soil level. If you plant deeper they won't flower. Add a handful of lime to the planting hole if you have acid soil.

If your garden is windswept or you grow big double-flowered peonies, it's a good idea to put stakes in as soon as the first shoots start to appear.

The best way to make more peonies is by division. We divide plants every three years in September or October. Dig up the whole plant, wash the soil off the roots and cut into hand-sized pieces, making sure each new piece has two or three new buds. These new divisions can flower the following year.

The only problem you are likely to have with peonies is botrytis (or peony wilt), where young shoots keel over in spring. If you see it, pinch out affected shoots straightaway. The disease is spread by airborne spores so make sure the plant has plenty of space around it for air to circulate and cut down foliage in autumn so spores can't over-winter.

Some people thinks ants are a problem but unless they lay a nest in the plant they actually help. As the plant gets close to flowering the buds exude sugars, which can make flowers open unevenly. The ants take away the sugar and help the flowers to open!"

Horticulture Week

May 8th 2014

Kelways director Dave Root says his plants are 4-5 weeks ahead of last year when he had to heat them up to guarantee premium condition for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

This year it’s the "tougher challenge of holding back and cooling down" 20,000 plants for Chelsea, he says.

Kelways is sourcing and growing for six main show gardens and assisting with five others including three trade stands.

Root says most challenging has been the Massachusetts Garden because the plant list is so specific and because Cape Cod spring comes very late.

The Somerset grower is supplying Alan Titchmarsh's Britain in Bloom garden, where orders for plants came six months after other Chelsea gardens. Echium pininana, Loquat Eriobotrya japonica and Adiantum venustum are the most important plants.

For the Kelways stand in the pavilion the grower shows irises and peonies, with P.Moonrise a highlight.

Root will launch a new edition of Kelways Gardens of Delight, which was first published in 1909, at the show.

Garden Forum

May 8th 2014

According to Dave Root at Kelways, every year has its own challenges and 2014 is no different. The met office tell us that we have had the 3rd warmest April since 1910 and so what in horticultural terms was already an ‘early year’ got even earlier! Dave estimates that his plants are 4-5 weeks ahead of last year when he had to heat them up to guarantee premium condition for the show. This year it’s the tougher challenge of holding back and cooling down. Whatever the weather, 20,000 plants will be transported from Somerset to the showground in just six days, quite a feat.

Kelways have a busy year at the show, sourcing and growing for six main show gardens and assisting with five others including three major trade stands. Most challenging has been the Massachusetts Garden because the plant list is so specific and the fact that on Cape Cod spring comes very late and the Chelsea Garden is striving to be a representation of Cape Cod seascape in Spring!

Dave is hugely excited about the opportunity to work with Alan Titchmarsh and although the order for the plants came through six months after the others he has risen to the challenge and is confident that the garden will be fabulous. Key plants will be the Echiums, in particular Echium pininana, a foxglove like tri-annual that will be around 9 ft high and planted in the area of the garden depicting the Isle of Wight. The beautiful Loquat Eriobotrya japonica, some very pretty ferns such as Adiantum venustum and specimen trees will all play a part in making up the plant tapestry for this unique and highly anticipated garden.

For the Kelways stand in the pavilion the irises are coming along thick and fast and may require a little slowing down, the peonies are looking good and in particular the team are excited by P. Moonrise which should be spectacular if all goes well.

Press day will see the launch of Dave Root’s second book in a year. The new one is entitled ‘Kelways Gardens of Delight’ and is in fact an addition to what was James Kelways Manual of Horticulture. Gardens of Delight was first published in 1909 and was completely rewritten for this 1914 edition. Now reprinted for the first time 100 years later, it contains all of the information from the 1914 book, with a new introductory chapter by Dave Root.

This unique book celebrates the transition of the Victorian flower garden from bedding plants that were changed twice yearly, to the artistic herbaceous border, permanently planted to provide a colour-co-ordinated floral display for the whole of the growing season. With a foreword by Gertrude Jekyll, and contributions by William Robinson and other influential commentators of the day, the book explores how the connection between Miss Jekyll and Kelways helped to change the way gardens were planted and enjoyed. We are proud to reissue this work in its centenary year. Both gardeners and nurserymen will find a wealth of timeless information alongside features which reflect the horticultural interests of an era which saw the British nursery industry at the very height of its success, just as World War I was about to change everything. 


May 1st 2014

If you are going to Chelsea, however, do look out for Kelways stand in the Floral Marquee. New for 2014 will be a wonderful selecction of intersectional hybrid peonies which are a cross betwee tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. These fabulous plants last much longer, do not succumbb to blight, have great blooms and extended colour ranges.

PS Kelways will be growing plants for ALan Titchmarsh's first garden at Chelsea for decades. This cannot be formally judges and given a medal as it is sponsored by the RHS. But there is a chance to say what you think of it by votig for it as People's Choice.

BBC Gardeners' World

May 2014


"...Dave Root from Kelways, to name but one, will be showing the latest intersectional hybrid peonies at theis year's (Chelsea Flower) show, hoping they will have benefited from the recent mild weather..."