Court in the Act
The RHS Hampton Court flower show always attracts two things; loads of enthusiastic gardeners and rain.
So it was with sunglasses, umbrella, flip-flops, wellies, sunscreen and Beecham’s powders that I ventured into our nation’s secondary most important flower show. Fortunately I was well prepared; visitors to the show enjoyed a heady mix of downpours and warm sunshine in equal measure. However, I can never work out why it always rains when I am outside looking at the show gardens and yet as soon as I enter the floral marquee the sun beats down with unrelenting ferocity!
The Hampton Court flower show has always been used to experiment with concepts that either do not fit ideologically or geographically with the Chelsea show. Over the last few years not only have we seen the new ‘conceptual’ gardens, but also an ever increasing emphasis on organic gardening, grow-your-own and climate change.
These are all interesting developments, but I do believe that many RHS members are there to see trees, shrubs and above all, flowers. Many of the show gardens now look more like ‘show allotments’ and whilst growing fruit and vegetables has always been an important aspect of gardening and something I love to do myself, I go to the shows to see new and innovative garden designs and plants.
The floral marquees, as normal are beautiful this year, although I did miss seeing Jekka McVicar the doyenne of herb gardening and gold medal winner par excellence. Jekka has a stall selling herbs just outside the marquee, which although not quite the same as her fantastic mixed herbs exhibit of 2008, puts many of the other exhibitors to shame. I was also impressed with Jacques Amand International’s (Silver-Gilt) mini forest of Eremurus (foxtail lily) that whilst not for everyone was very striking. The Big Plant Nursery (Silver-Gilt) had a great display of Ginkgo cultivars and other rare trees & shrubs, whilst Downderry Nursery’s (Gold) lavender exhibit was stunning. Bowden Hostas and Fernatix both won Gold medals for their wonderful exhibits showing that green is the ‘coolest’ colour of all.
It does bring a small smile to my face that this is the third year in a row that sustainability, global warning and drought have been an important theme for show organisers – only to be rewarded with driving rain. We all know that the environment is a serious issue for gardeners; it’s just more difficult to concentrate on reductions in the ozone layer when you are cold and wet!
So, if you are going to the flower show this week, don’t get ‘court’ out by the weather.
Jekka’s Herb Farm: www.jekkasherbfarm.com
Jacques Amand International: www.jacquesamand.com
Big Plant Nursery: www.bigplantnursery.co.uk
Downderry Nursery: www.downderry-nursery.co.uk
Bowden Hostas: www.bowdenhostas.com
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