RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015
Celebrating its 25th birthday, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the largest flower show in the world and perhaps second only to the ubiquitous Chelsea flower show.
Well it was that time of year again and our second high-light of the year; the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. It is always a stunning day out, especially if you are lucky with the weather and this year we certainly were.
The space and setting of the show is spectacular, covering three times the size of Chelsea Flower Show, and set in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. We always try to make a full day of it and as such have to leave home quite early in the morning so we have plenty of time to take it all in.
Hampton Court 25th Anniversary
Because it was the 25th year of the show we were hoping for something a little different and to see some sort of acknowledgment of this.
As soon as we walked in we spotted a massive cake with candles (all made of flowers of course) covered with Begonias and it was quiet a statement to be met with something as big and impressive as that. I think a job well done!
On our arrival we always make our way to the press tent to get our paperwork and sign in.
For the first time this year we were also given a list of celebrities planning on visiting the show. We always find it a little strange that Chelsea seems to attract all of the celebrities whilst Hampton Court does not apparently warrant the same sort coverage.
As it is such a pleasure to walk around the show and see the vast array of different gardens, it is interesting to note that this doesn't do it for the celebrities yet Chelsea does. However, we still managed to see the radio DJ Jo Whiley, just returned from Glastonbury, making an appearance at the show.
A regular feature of the Hampton Court Flower show since its inception, the rose tent is one of the best sections in my opinion, but then the rose is my favourite flower. As you walk into the tent and the smell just hits you. The displays were lovely, although I don’t know if it is my imagination or not, but the rose tent seems to get a little smaller every year.
Having visited the show for numerous successive years, I didn't feel that it flowed as well this year. The food area was again moved around and didn't seem right in their choice of location, but then maybe it is unfair of me to really comment because going on press day most of the food huts were not ready and set to go.
They also had a herb stand (Hook's Green Herbs) all on it’s own, half way in and half way out of a beer tent! Not sure what that was all about. The weather was very hot and I did feel a bit sorry for them as half their stand was in full sun.
Another downside of attending the show on press day is that you miss out on shopping opportunities in the Country Fair tent as they are all still setting up on press day. However, the advantages of going on a quiet day like press day to see the gardens and plants in all their glory is what the show is actually about and why we're there and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world.
The conceptual gardens were very interesting this year and I definitely got the messages they were trying to get across. Sometimes in the past they have been just a bit too avant garde for my tastes.
The one I loved the most was the DialAFlight: Synaesthesia Garden, which won a Gold medal. I just loved how the colours changed the whole feel of the space. I asked the designer how the plants would survive with restricted palletes of the article light and she admitted that they took the tent off every evening to allow the plants to get enough natural light to last the whole show. Still, an interesting concept.
The floral marquee is of course always amazing. A show of plants and stunning examples of how to put them together in your own garden. It is also nice that on public show days you can buy directly from the exhibitors. Every year you spot something different and new. Quite how the exhibitors come up with new ideas every year beats me.
My thoughts on the small summer gardens this year was Wow! Everyone I looked at I just loved and I do enjoy the theme of a couple of colours in a garden; it just works, and on a stunning day, how better to see it than in the full summer sun.
Strangely however, the only one that just did not do it for me was the QEF: A Different Point of View garden and I was very surprised to see it got best in show for its category, but then again maybe the judges pick it more for what it represents rather than just a pretty garden I'd like to have at home.
The Hampton Court Maze
A famous feature of the Hampton Court Palace is its ancient Yew maze, the oldest in the world, and in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Hampton Court flower show a new, temporary maze was designed and erected just for the show.
Children's Scarecrow Competition
One thing about Hampton that is unique to the show is the scarecrows from local primary schools and as always stunning and lovely to see the children getting involved. What a lovely way to get children interested in gardening. They always have a theme and this year's theme was a Celebration of History.
Large Show Gardens
The large show garden category is one of my favourites, maybe not as showy as Chelsea, but always interesting. I loved all of them this year and I don’t think there was one that I did not like. I think like many things, the weather plays a big part for the show and everything looks at it best in the sun.
Two gardens stood out for me though and again the weather played a big roll in that because it was a hot day and they both had water and a lot of blue, which is so cooling.
My favourite of the whole show was the The Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism: Garden of Paradise. Why I loved it so much was the planting and the colours of the flowers, the pinks against the white walls, together with the Cyprus trees running along the back wall and the water.
It just transported you to another place, and is that not what it is all about?