RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2013

Impressive gardens can be built on budgets as low as £15,000.

Unlike the Chelsea Flower show there is a real feeling of space at the Hampton Court Palace flower show with plenty of opportunity to pick out things that inspire you and make you think "I could do that at home."

Show Gardens

Show gardens are a major attraction at any flower show and Hampton Court this year featured four categories of gardens:

  • Show gardens
  • Summer gardens
  • Conceptual gardens
  • Low Cost / High Impact gardens

The show gardens varied enormously, but they all had ideas that you could take home and apply to your own garden.

A recurring theme this year amongst many of the gardens was the sense of the countryside and the environment. Planting this year seemed very naturalistic with many wild flowers and cool blues and purples. Grasses were prominent in many gardens, usually being used as linking plants, linking separate groups of planting together.

Large Show Gardens

The large show gardens demonstrated innovation and inspiration with The Ecover Garden winning Gold and Best in Show with its fundamental principle of "water is life."

Summer Gardens

The summer gardens, with a wide range of themes, were undoubtedly my favourite.

A Cool Garden won Gold and Best in Show, designed to form the courtyard for a new spa building offering attractive views and providing a private and restful space for family to enjoy.

A Moveable Feast, developed by a group of military wives, presented a portable garden designed for families on constant manoeuvres with brightly coloured containers and each colour representing a different course of your meal.

Conceptual Gardens

Tip of the Iceberg conceptual garden with the fridgesThe striking conceptual gardens challenge conventional ideas of what constitutes a garden with their concept-led approach to design.

The Tip of the Iceberg garden used fridges as building blocks and planters, with each fridge representing an alpine habitat. This garden was certainly very different and striking.

I Disappear, inspired by the Metallica song, was designed to show that by producing our own crops, we can be self-sufficient and at the same time contribute to purifying the atmosphere. The garden also drew attention to the continuing loss of allotment land to development and building projects.

Low Cost - High Impact Gardens

A Room with a View - Low Cost - High Impact Garden

4 Low Cost High Impact gardens were offered as practical ideas for giving your garden a makeover, focusing on the garden as an extension to your home.

Bugs in Boots, designed and built with a budget of £13,000, was an ecological garden created with insects, birds and other wildlife in mind.

A Room with a View, which won gold, was powerful in it’s simplicity to find an emotional landscape for you to savour a beer in the evening.

Show Re-Design

This year the RHS decided to shake things up a little and redesign the layout of the show into 3 separate zones – Grow, Escape & Inspire.

Inspire Zone

This zone was designed to showcase innovation and “how to make the most of your outdoor space". This zone reflects the latest in garden design and garden products showcasing everything from innovative garden lighting to funky furniture and new outdoor cooking methods.

Escape Zone

This zone added a “distinctive countryside theme" to the show.

The RHS Butterfly Dome was a stunning new feature allowing you to walk through a canopy trail of tropical plants and get up close to a magnificent array of butterflies. You can encourage butterflies into your own garden by choosing plants from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators lists.

fab6ff587441e6b05b6a598d2edbc889The Rose & Floristry Vintage Festival took a nostalgic step back in time to the 1950’s and was a must to see. The flower arrangements and displays of roses were out of this world and the smell as you walked into the marquee was gorgeous. The floristry displays incorporated a vintage garden party, a 1950’s-style high street floral display and high teas.

Introduced at the show this year were the rose of the year for 2014, Rosa ‘Lady Marmalade’ (apricot in colour) and Rosa ‘Silver Shadow’.

The Escape zone was also home to the Country Living Magazine pavilion which had around 150 designers, craftspeople and producers from all over Britain. A must for some retail therapy!!

The Growing Tastes area in this zone was designed to inspire you to grow your own produce, taking you on a journey from plot to plate. Displays of garlic, herbs and chillies were abundant.

Have you ever thought about eating Allium Hookeri? Chop and use for cooking like you would an onion or chive, it tastes slightly garlicky and is a cross between a chive and leek, or place in your salad. Or how about eating the leaves from a Toona Sinensis tree, just like salad leaves the tree leaves can be eaten in salads and have a smoky flavour. Or Pot Marigold Calendula Officinalis – place the petals from a flower head with your rice as it’s cooking and the colour comes out into the rice. Lastly don’t forget to add the flower heads from your Nasturtiums into your salad bowl to brighten it up, they also taste good too!!!

Grow Zone

This zone was dominated by the ubiquitous floral marquee; the size of a football pitch and home to nearly 100 nurseries and growers. It was drenched in the colours of summer, with magnificent displays of foxtail lilies, heucheras, alliums. Primula Vialii, Agapanthus plants and Achillea ‘Fanal’ being my favourites.

Don’t be afraid of big leaves and monsters in the floral marquee though; it truly had some exotic offerings.

For a taste of the tropics choose a Disa Orchid with their fantastic flowers and colours or for something different consider getting a Ginkgo Biloba ‘Troll’ from China which reaches 2½ metres in 15 years; the great thing about them is they are as tough as old boots and grow anywhere, perfect for our very mixed soil conditions here in the UK.

Plant Heritage were celebrating the charity’s 35th birthday, highlighting the importance of the protection and conservation of British plants. For example The Heather Society is trying to get heathers back into fashion and is very worried after we’ve lost 60% of heathers in the UK because they have become unfashionable.

ScarecrowAn annual exhibit at the show, the display of scarecrows dressed in national costumes from around the world were stunning and fun, and were created by infant and primary schools from the South East of England.

It’s great that you can buy plants at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show; there are thousands to choose from and all at very reasonable prices. You can see a combination of plants in the show gardens and then go and buy the plants to take home! And with loads of free expert advice on hand for those burning questions you may have, it’s nice to have the growers on hand to do just that.

There’s much more than Flowers at the show, so if you can visit one year I’d highly recommend you do!


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