This was my first visit on press day – with thanks to The Garden Network I was able to gain access and enjoy what is billed as the largest flower show in the world featuring the Best of British Horticulture.
As the billing suggests this is one mammoth show and so much to take in in one day – so much so that it will be difficult to do all the exhibitors justice – but I’ll make a start and add further thoughts later!
The show gardens normally define the show, but at Hampton Court they form only one of many varied garden themes and styles. So was there a strong theme that ran through the gardens? – well if there was I couldn’t detect it! Variety providing the spice of life. What was interesting however was that there were two notably different approaches to the show gardens. The one extreme being exhibited by the young Jack Dunckley with his Birchfield garden – to say this was a riot of colour would be a masterful understatement. Jack used over 100 trolleys of plants from the nursery that his family now own. It was almost as if he wished to show every plant they had in stock! The colours dazzled – it was indeed a riot!
The other extreme was shown in the Combat Stress Therapeutic Garden designed by Fi Boyle - where bright colours were – by definition – missing. This was as soft, warm and relaxing as it is possible to create. The careful blend of planting bringing no surprises or shocks. The layout designed to engender reassurance and wellbeing. This garden is a real garden as well as a show garden – which as Fi said may not win her the marks from the show judges!
Each camp had their followers with the Legoland Garden by Paula Young & Paul Howard &
the A Matter of Urgency garden, by Jill Foxley
and the Girlguiding UK Centenary Garden by Phillipa Pearson
erring more towards Jack’s vision of bright colours – where they differed and perhaps in their execution was that they showed a more unified approach to the application of a colour theme or themes to bring the gardens together.
Fighting the limited colour pallette corner were the Living Room by Mike Hodges & Hambrooks – showing a tranquil vision in white,
and echoed by the Copella Bee Garden in its use of predominantly blue spectrum planting
and the Sadolin Refresh and Revive garden
reverting to a whiter theme again.
Sitting in the middle was An Uprising of Kindness garden by Bill Butterworth
which cleverly combined a couple of colour themes to tell a powerful story of picking up the pieces of a broken life.
So maybe the use of colour provides a key to the gardens this year, amongst all the stories told and the visions portrayed.
Then I captured this marvellous moment when Fi Boyle had some of the soldiers for whom the garden is intended lining up for a photo-call – perhaps a little colour in the garden isn’t so bad after all?
You may also like: Hampton Court Palace Flower Show overview