Hampton Court Newsletter 2013

Hampton Court Flower Show is absolutely my favourite of the gardening year! It’s the worlds largest flower show and the setting is just spectacular. No jostling for a tiny bit of elbow room here there is plenty of room for everybody.
Don’t forget your pen and notepad as you explore and enjoy inspirational grow your own exhibits, show gardens and plant marquees filled to the gunnels with a joyous array of tempting plants, flowers and must-have accessories until your mind is full to bursting with all the fabulous ideas you can’t wait to put into practice!

Oh my - I really do wish I had a bigger garden!

Happy plant hunting!
Pat

 

In recent years there has been much more focus on the Grow Your Own enthusiast and this year the new look in the Growing Tastes Marquee is set to give even more inspiration to those thinking about growing a little of their own food. For the first time growers are cheek by jowl with artisan food producers giving visitors information about a whole range of produce.
Novice gardeners can learn all about successfully growing their own vegetables, herbs and fruit, with advice from the best growers and ‘old hands’ can chat about new concepts, ideas and varieties.  Delicious foods will be available direct from the producers and there will be daily demonstrations and tasting sessions of real food on its short (hopefully) journey from plot to plate.
Plant stands have a wealth of ideas about how to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in borders, pots and plots in harmony with flowers - both ornamental and edible to attract pollinators. So, with its new look for 2013 maybe the Growing Tastes Marquee will inspire many of you to dust off your garden tools and start growing more delicious food - we know you can do it!

 

 

Equally inspiring and ‘oh so glossy ‘ this Vestra Wealth ‘Jardin du Gourmet’ garden was a far cry from the normal controlled chaos of a working allotment or veg plot but tucked in with all the ornamentals were lots of edible crops such as sweetcorn and leeks and, unlike on most allotments there was also a fully equipped kitchen, a dining table and bags of style!
Ok it was very much a ‘show special’ and the kitchen alone would be a king’s ransom… but under all that glitz was a very workable kitchen garden. I wouldn’t turn it down!
A Moveable Feast was definitely one of my favourite of the show gardens, read all about it in my Marshalls blog.

 

We gardeners are always trying to encourage wildlife and pollinators into our gardens and the RHS have collaborated with the Eden Project to feature a stunning Butterfly Dome with an array of tropical beauties - they didn’t forget our native butterflies and bees either and there is a series of talks and activities to help us understand how important gardens are as part of our diverse wildlife habitats.
This fabulous specimen is called an Owl Butterfly. Several were feeding on cut up pieces of fruit in the dome, all butterflies seem to like bananas , our native red admirals and commas often feast on the over ripe bananas that we use to ripen tomatoes at the end of the season.
It was red hot in the butterfly dome and very humid, just how the tropical butterflies like it – but it was a bit too hot for us humans on Monday. But if you’re visiting the show, don’t miss the chance to look inside and marvel at all the exotic shapes and colours.

Our native butterflies were enjoying hot but far less humid conditions in a netted area outside.
 It is astonishing to see how big some of the butterflies are -the Camberwell Beauty is a really imposing British butterfly. Outside the netting, elsewhere in the showground the butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects were taking advantage of all the nectar rich flowers such as achillea, campanulas and monarda on display.
All these insects are essential to humans of all ages and they’re especially fascinating for children.
The Pollinators Garden, Bumblearium and Marquee will keep children engrossed and encourage us all to make the effort to make an even more inviting environment for the wildlife and pollinators that visit our plots.

 

We loved this display of garlic, with a bit of imagination you could pretend you really were on a rooftop terrace though it could smell rather strongly by the end of the show! When we visited it was like a freshly cooked pizza!
More importantly it’s a timely reminder that Garlic prefers a long growing season to achieve those huge tasty bulbs. Like onions they need lots of sun to really get into their stride and don’t forget the water, or the weeding for the perfect crop.

 

 

The show gardens were awash with naturalistic planting and the emphasis was on creating wildlife rich habitats.  From flowery pastel designs to this beautifully colour coordinated planting scheme.
Planting contained lots of frothy umbellifers loved by bees and hoverflies and  Astrantia, Eryngium, Geum, Achillea, Erigeron, Salvia, Hardy Geraniums and grasses were everywhere with plenty of dark foliage from plants such as Anthriscus Ravenswing and Actea simplex creating wonderful areas of focal interest.
It was red hot on Monday but everything looked as fresh as a daisy, copious watering was a full time job for the exhibitors though.

 

Anthemis E C Buxton popped up in many gardens, this creamy-yellow old favourite just mixes effortlessly with such a diverse range of colours and forms in just about any situation.
There were lots of ideas to take away and planting schemes to copy. If you like the veg plot or garden neat and tidy it’s sometimes difficult to incorporate wild-style planting schemes. But somehow the designers and exhibitors managed to get just the right balance between free-flow and control!
One way to achieve a balance is to set aside a narrow strip of land to use as a butterfly/pollinator ‘lane’
It keeps the rest of the plot neat enough for even the most tidy-minded gardener!

.

 


On a totally different note the show is hosting a fun henhouse auction the henhouses have been decorated by celebrity designers and personalities. Being a keen ‘chook’ owner I was fascinated to see the weird and wonderful creations they came up with!

My favourites were Dragon Den’s design Deborah Meaden, and the window-boxed hen house by Kate Humble, although for me the stars of the show are always the chooks themselves; look out for a magnificent cockerel next to these hen houses, he looked very eager to move his harem in…