The planter goes to Wisley

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After much delay, because of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, we have now been able to present our latest decorative lead planter….to RHS Wisley. Where will our next planter go?

The Worshipful Company of Plumbers has just had its first live “event” since the start of lockdown, albeit on a reduced scale.

We had previously given decorated lead planters to Her Majesty, with a pair adorning the rose garden at Buckingham Palace celebrating her Golden Jubilee, and another at Sandringham for the Diamond Jubilee. We had also presented our Honorary Liveryman, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall with another. So what would our next project be? When Andy Jasper, the Programme Director at the Royal Horticultural Society was Dame Fiona Woolf’s principal guest and speaker at a livery lunch, the answer was obvious. We could keep up the “Royal” connection, her Majesty being their patron, and give a planter to an organisation, which would present it expertly to what is over a million visitors in a typical year.

Following a visit to Wisley during which a great location was chosen, the size, shape and decoration were agreed. This included our coat of arms and the motifs of flowers and plants decorating Wisley’s attractive 1904 laboratory building. The planter would weigh some 230Kg, would be semi- circular and would exactly fit the scheduled space, which would have a small water feature above.

The planter under construction and completed at Amberley


Soon afterwards, work started at our workshop in the Gin building at the Amberley Museum. Seeing such a complex item being made makes our display more interesting for our visitors to Amberley. Our craftsmen, liverymen Peter Cheesman and Eddie McCourt made good progress and by late winter just one more day’s work was needed to finish it. This was scheduled and the formal presentation to Wisley was arranged.

Then a spanner was thrown into the works – Covid-19. The museum shut for the lockdown and work to finish the planter was not possible. Following the lifting of the lockdown the work was completed and the presentation was rearranged. We were even going to have our first livery company guests, the Master of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners and their Spadebearer (their equivalent to our Senior Assistant). The latter will be better known to you as Nicholas Woolf, last year’s Master’s Consort, but Covid-19 intervened once again and we were limited to six people at the presentation.

The planter in place at Wisley and planted behind (LtoR) Eddie McCourt, Peter Cheesman, John Lockyer, The Master Peter Rumley, Emma Allen and Andy Jasper


On the morning of 5th October 2020 our party of the Master, Past Master John Lockyer, one of the directors of the Plumbers’ Museum Workshop Trust and our two craftsmen, Peter and Eddie presented the planter. We were hosted by Andy Jasper, their Programme Director and Emma Allen, with whom we had liaised and who had done so much to make it happen. After the heavy rain of the previous few days, we were blessed with a warm, sunny day. The presentation was followed by light refreshments in the nearby Waterlily Pavilion, we being the first visitors there since its recent redecoration.

The Master Gardener, Dr. Heather Barrett-Mold (L) and IPM Dame Fiona Woolf (R) and the details of the plaque on the planter


Our intended livery guests did not lose out. Dame Fiona and Andy Jasper jointly invited the Master Gardener, Dr. Heather Barrett-Mold, the Spadebearer and the Master Gardener’s consort Barry Barrett-Mold to view the planter. On that Friday they all visited Wisley and they also enjoyed a dry, sunny day.

Andy Jasper masterminded the redevelopment of Wisley, starting with the larger more spacious entrance and he took both parties up the hill to review progress on the construction of the substantial new RHS Wisley building with its state of the art laboratories, educational, conference and catering spaces. Due for completion in the next few months, it will be opened in Summer 2021. With over 200 acres of immaculately kept gardens, Wisley is well worth a visit and even those who have visited before will find much that is new to admire.  If you do go  you could see our new Planter. It can be found at the north side of the box parterre which is close to the Waterlily Pavilion.

Andy said the previous building lasted for 100 years and the new one is intended to set up the RHS and Wisley for the next 100 years. Lead planters are extremely durable and we look forward to both celebrating their centenary.

Thanks must go to Peter and Eddie who did a wonderful job. They are now wondering what project they should undertake at Amberley in 2021. Does anyone have any ideas?