On Thursday I was fortunate to be invited to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (8-13 July 2014) with my sister, a Garden Designer at Chessington Garden Centre. Having visited Chelsea a few times, I was excited for my first visit to the Surrey-based Hampton Court equivalent!
Luckily we managed to avoid the rain, so could enjoy the gardens at leisure! Hampton Court Flower Show is more spaced out than Chelsea, so there were lots of opportunities for ice-cream breaks and Pimms stops. The general vibe was very relaxed, helped by the lively jazz band stand.
The flower show was split into three sections – Escape, Grow and Inspire – providing inspiration on design and planting, as well as featuring conceptual pieces focused around the seven deadly sins. I very much enjoyed the interactice elements, such as in the Royal Horticultural Society Garden which allowed you to view different garden specimens under microscopes – great fun!
My favourite gardens were the NSPCC Legacy Garden, designed to mark the 130th anniversary of the NSPCC children’s charity, Hedgehog Street – sponsored by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and the Lest We Forget Garden, designed by Steve Mann to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – a poignant reminder.
The NSPCC Legacy Garden:
The NSPCC Legacy Garden was a clever design, telling the story of the NSPCC’s continued presence through the ages with the use of dated pillars, which seperated sections of the garden like a timeline. Each section was designed to reflect a different era, taking visitors on a journey through the decades, with different toys (old bears to Lego), paving and planting to demonstrate its lasting legacy.
The Hedgehog Street garden, which won Best Small Garden, was designed to raise awareness of the small changes that visitors can make in their gardens to encourage hedgehogs and help stop their decline in numbers. Split into three different suburban styles, each garden had one thing in common – hedgehog-friendly holes in the garden boundaries to allow hedgehogs to roam between them.
Lest We Forget Garden:
The Lest We Forget Garden was reminiscent of a World War One trench, complete with a dug-out, grow-your-own vegetables and barbed wire. Though you’d hope your garden never looked like this, Hampton Court provided a great forum to encourage visitors to remember those who fought in the war, in the style of a Rememberance Sunday service, and so it was a thought-provoking piece.
All in all, we had a very enjoyable day – lots of inspiration, access to experts, and entertainment! I will definitely go back next year, and hope that one day I can leave with my arms full of plants!
Did you go, and what did you think?