For those who love tennis and gardens, the south west London / Surrey border is the place to be at the beginning of July in 2017.
Wimbledon and RHS Hampton Court are within ball hitting distance of each other. Well, maybe not quite that close, but close enough.
Although you would find it difficult to fit the two into one day, watching tennis on the centre court one day and visiting the Flower Show the next would be a treat for many people visiting the capital.
So, what’s on offer in 2017? Gardens of course…
- Show Gardens
- Conceptual Gardens
- World Gardens
- Gardens for a Changing World – a new category
- Flower and Vegetable Boxes
Plants and Flowers
For florists, and those who love flowers; includes the
- Floral Marquee
- Festival of Roses
- Floral Design Studio
You can also visit the Butterfly Dome, see the scarecrows, admire views of the Long Water. Then for those who like their retail therapy, there are
- Trade Stands – some of the displays are impressive; they get judged too
- Plant Village – yes you can squeeze in another choice speciman (I couldnt resist buying some unusual herbs)
- Country Living marquee
And there are plenty of demonstrations in the cookery theatre – grow it and eat it! Family activities on the weekend and music from the bandstand to enjoy whilst you eat your lunch.
Too much to fit into one blog! So let’s head for a round-up of what took our eye: design and planting ideas for your garden from the gardens at RHS Hampton 2017.
The biggies. The gardens that get the prime time TV coverage. W’ve tried to find a different angle for you…
Journey through life garden sang with colour – just imagine this contrast on a snowy day on the north of Scotland.
a different approach – the Colour Box garden
always check round the back…
and on a Viking cruise
birdsong and scented roses in the Blind Veterans garden; plus entwining wicker work sculptures – a feast for the senses
Contrasting planting with planting; and planting with structures – always adds interest and depth to a garden. Try soft flowers and spiky bracts or featherey grasses with industrial materials
Playtime! Not a teddy bears’ picnic at the beach, but a walk on the wild side with swings, treehouse, stream – and lots of scope for adventurous children.
RHS Kitchen Garden
So it seems almost mundane to consider the excellent RHS kitchen garden, filled with edible plants (my kind of garden!) As you probably know, edible gardens figure large in both my personal and professional life as a garden designer. There was plenty for me to get excited about. I really liked the fact that most of the ideas were easily adaptable for those with large kitchen gardens and those with small spaces – even a balcony.
built in seating and raised bed
edible vertical wall
The Conceptual Garden category is there to make you think. They definitely generate a lot of discussion. For example: Are they gardens if they don’t have plants in them? Generally speaking, they do have plants. Nathan and I see this as a creative category; ‘gardens as art’ ; ‘gardens as science’; gardens to make you question something you might not have otherwise thought about. Concept gardens are the taking of an idea or a cause and using a garden to illustrate it. Yes, sometimes they do feel a bit like modern art – you know, without the explanatory board next to the painting its just a red square syndrome. But sometimes, they really, really do what they should – make us question how we treat this planet and the other inhabitants on it, be they vegetable, floral, or animal.
We felt the ‘Not for Sale’ garden in support of Tusk was outstanding. Did you kow that over 20,000 elephants a year are killed for the ivory of their tusks?
By contrast Kinetica and Elements of Life gardens were very lush…
Horticulture and gardens from Spain and three from the USA
the Pazo’s secret garden reminded me of Spanish holidays and local vineyards.
Of the three Great Gardens of the USA , the Charleston garden made a real feature of its fountain, perfect for a hot climate, obviously, but a concept which would work well on a sunny patio in the UK too.
lights were central to the Fort Myers garden
loved the seating in the Oregon garden
In fact there were some excellent examples of seating being used as a decorative feature as well as a practical element in many of the gardesn. This is a subject I shall return to in another blog.
Gardens for a Changing World
A new category for 2017, the RHS describe it as “current thinking about our future gardens”. Quite a broad remit, and one which allows creative and practical solutions.
Dealing with the problem of flooding there was a rural solution, based on the real-life example of Pickering in North Yorkshire. And an urban proposal, for those who would like an ‘ordinary’ looking garden. Working on many urban gardens as we do, creating gardens that function as rain gardens without taking over the needs of the family who use it, is an issue we’re used to and feel strongly about. You won’t catch Plews paving over front gardens with impermeable surfaces and no plants!
Contrast was seen in the solutions for greening grey Britain put forward by the Power to make a Difference and London Glades gardens. The former sees wildlife friendly planting taking over from human created devastion, but in a fairly controlled manner. The latter garden is based on forest farming layering techniques and ‘hill culture’ where rottng vegetation gradually creates mounds and hillocks.
The Brownfield Metamorphosis garden encapsulates these elements in an industrial setting; it is the most eye catching of these gardens.
On a different topic the charity Perennial had a journey through life garden with insect friendly and water resilient planting spiralling round.
Flower and Vegetable Boxes
Recycling, celebrating a centenary of a garden society, saving the Elm tree, butterflies and more were the inspiration for these gardens in a box. One or two of these were actually bigger than some urban gardens I’ve seen, proving that it is possible to have a beautiful garden whatever the space available.
Roses, Scarecrows and more besides…
Too much else to fit in here, so the Festival of Roses will be a blog for you in a couple of weeks. Next week it is of course the How to Grow Gooseberries blog I promised you.
A slightly social conscience angle seems to have come across this year. This probably reflects the effect of the new gardens category; but it also reflects Plews passion for conservation, gardens that work for humans, wildlife and the planet. For example, whilst there was plenty of bee friendly, wildlife friendly planting we didn’t see anything to promote the use of ‘safe’ pesticides.
Did we have any criticisms? The main one would have to be the lack of drinking water taps. That’s not just our perspective, but a frequent comment we heard. There were only two, with ridiculously long queues all day. It’s not only the plants that need watering!
Let’s hope I don’t jinx next year’s weather by asking for more drinking water taps to be provided. Or at the very least, for RHS to sell bottled water at a cheap price.
So who did lose their hat in the Long Water Canal?
Flower Show Perspectives
Free eBooks on Flower Shows for you to download from Plews website.
If you’d like to view previous years at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this is a convenient and pleasant way to do so! Click here for RHS Hampton Court
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