|A very special location (Hampton Court Palace) - the RHS Show|
spans both side of the 'long water'
Fortunate indeed are those of us who are
able to visit some of the major Gardening Shows in the UK. Going to these
events offers the keen gardener so much more than just those ‘ooh-ah’ moments
of sheer joy at what we discover. It might be a brand new rose, or other plant;
it might be a new product to make life easier on the vegetable plot, or when
trimming the boundary hedge, or it might be the elegance of a Show garden by an
as yet unknown designer. Or the location itself, as last week at the 2013 RHS
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
|I really loved the mixture of planting in these raised beds|
As far as I am concerned on these
occasions, I attend to keep ahead of trends, looking specifically for ideas
that I am sure will inspire readers, let alone me. Although I have an acre of ground (somewhat neglected of
late), the garden is subdivided into small plots, of a size no more than many
gardeners have at their disposal. So much can be achieved by utilising raised
beds, which can be configured in various layouts. So long as the compost used
is appropriate for the plants to be grown, is kept topped up and adequate
feeding is given, you can mix veg, flowers and herbs to great effect, whilst
also considering beneficial insects.
|These staddle-stones would provide a focal point in any garden|
Think garden art, too: a pleasing
arrangement of statuary or artefacts need not encroach on the growing area.
Indeed, a modest introduction will add interest to a plot during the winter
months when plant growth is at a minimum, so that you view the garden on more
than one plane. Exhibitors at Shows will have a far greater variety to offer
than your local gardening centre. Or head online to the Dobies website and see
what you can discover to augment your garden layout.
|So calm and peaceful was this garden that I omitted to record any details|
(my apologies to the designer and sponsor)
“Beauty lies in the eye of the
beholder,” and that could hardly be more apposite than when wandering around the
Show Gardens. Some are truly beautiful from every angle – a jump ahead of the
rest, whereas others appear to have lost the plot and you wonder if there is
some hidden meaning that has entirely escaped you. Surely a garden should not
need a lengthy explanation from the designer to be able to understand it? Would
you be happy if it was suddenly transported into your own plot, or as an
adjunct to it? And wearing the other hat, if you have a favourite at any Show,
could you give a reason for your choice?
|There was another part to this garden - the 'regeneration' aspect|
At RHS Hampton Court this year, many
designers were supporting worthwhile causes, or being sponsored by them.
Supporting concerns is always worthwhile, though one does not have to fall in
love with a garden or its concept to do so. One quickly comes to realise why gardens and their designers
continually win Gold medals – as is always the case with knowledgeable and
thoughtful Chris Beardshaw, whose McCarthy & Stone garden, challenging the
concepts of old age, I wrote about last week. Equally provoking of thought was
Landform’s ‘Desolation to Regeneration’, a conceptual garden inspired by
Tolkein and designed by Catherine MacDonald. This explored the two phases of
forest fire through clever sequences of film, crackling sound, smoke, smell,
birdsong and of course, plants. Right on the edge of the showground, I almost
|It's always a joy to see so many schoolchildren at RHS Hampton Court |
Palace Flower Show (and note the little lad in conversation
with the Roman gladiator)
Challenging concepts and pushing the
boundaries of garden fashion and design extends one’s own thought processes, so
it is always a delight for me (a former primary school teacher) to see so many
schoolchildren visiting these shows. Individually, they may be overwhelmed but
the experience will rub off on them – how many amongst the various school
groups might become the garden designers of the future? Those visiting this
year were participating in the World Costume Scarecrow Competition.
|Chatting to James Alexander-Sinclair|
From schoolchildren to garden
personalities / celebrities (such horrid designations!) and this year eight who
admirably fill this classification (for their names are certainly well-known)
had the opportunity to create their own designer planting plots with their own
description. Catching my eye was that of garden designer, writer and
broadcaster, James Alexander-Sinclair – as much for his description as the
planting, for James has such a way with words that you never tire of reading or
listening. “A container can be subtle, sophisticated, blaring or productive
but, whichever way you go, it should always be joyful. I very much hope that my
design, filled with grass and colour, does precisely that.” Believe me it, did
– so much so that I forgot to photograph it!
The next RHS Show is at Tatton Park (Knutsford, Cheshire) at
the end of this coming week (25th-28th July), and that will be as different
again as are all the RHS Shows, but equally designed to inspire. Do go if you
can; details can be found HERE.
Labels: 2013 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, 2013 RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, children, Chris Beardshaw (designer), creative ideas, James Alexander-Sinclair