Wednesday, 1 July 2015

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show - Press Day - 29th June 2015

Where do I begin? Firstly, it was the luck of the draw that as Friends of City Garden's volunteers, Vicky and I received a Press Pass to review this auspicious day. Secondly, we were blessed with a glorious sunny day with a temperature that was manageable, although by the end of the day watering all plots was a priority.

I will start with gardens that are relevant to the City of London, our first path led us to a garden designed and created by Nigel Dunnett, who has recently completed the wonderous Beech Gardens at the Barbican.  A garden created for the BBC Community Gardeners' Question Time Front Gardens in conjunction with the Landscape Agency. We managed to speak to Nigel towards the end of the afternoon and mentioned how much we appreciated the City 'roof top' garden.

Can you spot the purple Angelica?

There was also a Magna Carta 800 Garden created and designed for Amnesty International by Frederic Whyte. The garden celebrates the history of human rights and marks 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta.   The garden layout is inspired by the Medieval Period. The tree at the heart of the garden represents the Amkerwycke Yew under which the Magna Carta was agreed in 1215 at Runnymede.  The waterways represent the 'bubble' of free speech. 

On arrival at Hampton Court Station we were very lucky to get a lift to the site in a TukTuk promoting the World Vision Garden bright orange and pink. We were a little disappointed that it was not waiting for us on the return trip to the station at the end of the day, when we really needed it!
A great crew and a beautiful garden, using orange rods and reflective copper boxes filled with Gerberas. 

John Warland also returns designing The World Vision Garden, with translucent orange rods representing rice paddy fields, and dark water cutting through, illustrating the fear of hunger that vulnerable children in Cambodia live with. Quoted from


You can never get enough of an English garden, and these days they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, contemporary and abstract. Each year the gardens move more and more towards biodiversity, reverting back to wildlife planting mixed with conventional borders but with a twist. 

Usually involving some extraordinary colour. Squires Garden Centres (of Twickenham) excelled in my view.  The Urban Garden designed and planted by Ian Hammond.  The feature plants included:
Achillea 'Cloth of Gold'. Agapanthus 'Big Blue', and outstanding Hydrangea macrophylla 'Zorro', surrounding a 'meadow mat' of wildflowers called 'Lure' - glorious!  

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Zorro'

Further temptation is offered by the wonderful display of plants to purchase! 

Achillea 'Cloth of Gold'

Next time we will bring a trolley!

There are always celebrities at this event, but it is a question of who is who?  We recognised a few and we feel this also may put us in a certain age group!  We spotted Maureen Lipman and friend also admiring the Squires Garden. 

Not wishing to intrude we got a lovely back view - yellow jacket!

Right next door we spyed a particular TV gardening favourite being intereviewed and later filmed, the wonderful Monty Don, in his 'gardening' jacket and hat. Pictures taken in the Garden of Paradise for the Turkish Tourist Board.

There are always many lovely stands and opportunities to purchase things for the garden, from tools to gadgets, trowels to garden fashion statements, silver baubles and sculptures and much more.  

Author and friend captured in silver baubles!
I am always on the look out for something innovative, and spotted AIR-POT near the Allium Restaurnt. A small stand selling a big idea.  They have actually been in business over 20 years, and may not be known to the average gardener. The container is a clever design to stop root circling, the pot guides each root to a hole in the fabric, where increased air in the compost dehydrates the tip. This prunes it causing lateral branching all the way up the stem. Process is repeated so a dense mass of fibrous roots is developed encouraging healthier plants.  From an Basil to an Oak Tree can be planted and grown this way. We have the pictures to prove it!

The Floral Marquee is a 'must see' and I must say what a pleasure to enjoy this space without coming up against hordes of people! We also found 'Heligan - Lost & Found' celebrating 25 years of its discovery, a beautiful stand showing lovely photographs of its reclamation over the years. 

Here are some of the sights to behold within the cornucopia of colour and scent.

 J's Garden Antiques had some incredible containers, the one you see may have been for tin or lead smelting. It was sold almost immediately.  A lovely couple and well worth visiting then in Worcestershire.

On arrival we met Jonathan Hill of Rolawn - we loved the rolling hillocks of lawn creating a very tempting slope for a bit of roly poly down into the dip! Famed for once providing the tennis lawns for Wimbledon, now supply the turf for the public areas and much more worldwide. An interesting history, sadly not on their web site.

(c) Rolawn 
Garden furniture abounds at the show, we particularly liked The patina of the weathered pieces turned to a beautiful silver colour, just had to be stroked and admired.

We also took shelter for a while in garden building by Browns. Beautifully finished inside and out, the epitiome of garden living, a garden studio or as a 'she' shed, which is apparently the latest thing. 

Also a special thanks to the RHS stand which displayed some of the detailed and colourful sketches, drawings and prints in the archive collection house at Vincent Square, London.  The collection is apparently available to view by appointment. 

A motif used much by Sir Christopher Wren at St Paul's Cathedral
and elsewhere in the City of London

The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is not just about us grown ups and our addicition to anything to do with gardens, but also for the kids.  There were a lot of schools on their annual visit and they were having a great time. As the gardens began to need constant watering it was a special treat for the children to get as wet as possible amongst spray, the gardeners were most obliging!


A wonderful day out and hope you enjoyed this short review, we took hundreds of pictures, but you know they really do not do it justice. If you can go along and see for yourself.  I will certainly be booking a ticket for next year.