Staking out the design
We asked Steve to describe his process and here is what he had to say:
Once I decide on a theme for the main bed (the smaller one usually always displays Edwards Gardens), I draw a sketch and start calculating the letter and feature sizes for the design. The royal cipher ER and circle is nine feet high and the letters in Elizabeth are 24 inches high, 18 inches wide with approximately five inches separating them. Once I know how many letters are required, it's just a matter of measuring to find a starting point in the bed. The beds are prepped in June to make a perfectly level surface for planting and once we start it takes a team of five or six very talented gardeners five days to complete both beds. Stakes are used to mark the dimensions of the letters and design features and I draw everything freehand in the smoothed out soil just before planting. Naturally you can't have footprints in the freshly groomed soil, so I use flat boards (that we unofficially call surfboards) to plant the logo and letters. Once I have the letters and feature planted, the rest of the team 'surfs' from the top down planting the background at three inch spacing.