Hampton Court Newsletter 2014

 

Hampton Court Newsletter

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May and with that fresh in our minds we headed back down to London to take a look at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. It’s a fantastic show, set in the spectacular 34 acres grounds of Hampton Court Palace and offers first-rate gardens and inspiriting exhibits located in the marquees.
The show this year did not disappoint. There were plenty of new and exciting gardening innovations, including ornamentals, to fruit and vegetable gardening and everything in between. We definitely got loads of inspiration! Overall it was a great chance to see the best that the world of horticulture has to offer and these were our favourite bits.

50 Years of Britain in Bloom
Britain in Bloom was first launched in 1964 and since then the campaign has grown to over 300,000 volunteers, now the largest volunteer group in the UK. With over 1.2million hours of work maintaining 2 million acres of public space in Britain, these volunteers really clock up the hours and last year alone they planted 20 million plants and saved the country millions of pounds. So by creating a show garden at Hampton Court to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloom seems to be the best way to celebrate.
To celebrate, Jon Wheatley, alongside many volunteers from around the UK, have produced a fabulous feature called 50 Golden Years: A Celebration of Britain in Bloom. Demonstrating the importance and influence of community gardening, this garden symbolises the environment, horticulture and community; the three aspects of Britain in Bloom. It epitomises horticultural quality and integrates attractive designs, heritage and wonderful artwork however, predictably, we loved the use of vegetables in the design.    

In The Floral Marquee
There’s no better place for inspiration at Hampton Court than the Floral Marquee. It’s crammed with flowers and foliage of many different species, cultivars and hybrids from all around the world, so you can find exactly what you’re after as well as something you’d never have expected. It was quite a spectacle with so many scents and colours and the hustle and bustle of the crowd. As I’m sure you can imagine, there was so much to see it was hard to pick just one best bit, but here are a few things that really stood out for us.
Eremurus really stood out for the crowd...quite literally. They make a statement in any garden and when planted on mass they create a display like none other in the gardening world. Held high like giant towers of vibrancy, Eremurus flowers are best planted at the back of a border where they will attracting bees, making them an ideal companion plant for border near your vegetable plot.
There were plenty of bees buzzing about the Alliums too. If you have a cutting section in your allotment or garden then these are a real must have. They will attract the bees to your garden whilst looking fantastic too. If you don’t have enough space for them you can always plant them in containers and spot them about your garden. 

Conceptual Gardens
This year the conceptual gardens were themed around the seven deadly sins, each garden representing a different sin. Some were rather strange, such as Marcus Green’s ‘The Grass is Always Greener’, which represented envy, however on the whole they were excellent. We loved Katerina Rafaj’s gluttony garden because it had a really poignant message concerning food waste.
Although the garden portrays a serious message in an abstract and artistic way, it also has a playful side with the use of oversized food tins. This emphasises the amount of food we consume in the western world, whilst millions of people live in famine. Although quite a sobering garden, I couldn’t help but feel that, as vegetable gardeners, we have a much clearer view of the importance of food and food waste.

The Grow Zone
Like many of the gardens at this years Chelsea, there were hints of the centenary of the First World War. The Lest We Forget garden, designed by Steve Mann, marks this occasion and has been inspired by Remembrance Sunday. It has been created to commemorate those who fought in the war. It’s quite a clever design and features trenches with a tank and actors who play soldiers. Aside from the thoughtful design, the garden feature an allotment with the vegetables planted in old ammunition cases as a type of raised bed. Clever, resourceful and relevant.

Summer Gardens
The summer gardens were great this year and featured another organisation celebrating a milestone. The NSPCC celebrated their 130th anniversary by creating the nostalgic, thought-provoking’ Legacy Garden, designed by Woolcott & Smith. The garden represents the work of the NSPCC throughout their time, asking the question of what we want to leave behind for future generations. It shows how supporters' have helped the work of the organisation through a 130 year journey, using both plants and toys popular in different decades. We particularly liked the beautiful copper beech at the centre of the garden which was used to display messages from supporters.

Care for your house plants
Like many keen gardeners I’m usually given at least one pot plant as a Christmas present.
But to my shame I’m much better at looking after outdoor plants than those that grow indoors.
In order to preserve my reputation as a gardener I have to do a bit of homework on any new houseplant that comes into my care.
If you’re the same I’ve shared my top tips for keeping festive houseplants going for as long as possible.
Some festive houseplants are easy to look after and just keep going, Other Christmas flowering plants take a bit more looking after. Poinsettias are well known to be among the trickiest of plants to keep because they are day length sensitive plants that need darkness and warmth all in strictly controlled amounts – I admit my advice is to simply enjoy them over the holiday and resign yourself to their eventual demise!
But cyclamen, orchids, azaleas and many others will last a lot longer than just a few weeks. Here’s how to keep them going well into the New Year.

Our Favourite Show Garden
Of all the gardens that stood out for us this year, there was one that everyone seemed to be talking about, and we loved it. Designed by Jim Fogarty, the 'Essence of Australia' creates an atmosphere which really makes you think that you could be in Oz! It recreates an Australian Garden within the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and celebrates the plant life which Australia has to offer. It takes inspiration from the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, which is part of Melbourne Botanic Garden, and points out the importance of outdoor living within Australia.
The thing that really stands out is the colour schemes of the wooden structures with the red trim overlaid with the glaucous colours of many of the foliage plants. Continuity of colours can be seen in the choice of plants, all of which have hot, orange, yellow or red flowers. All in all this garden has an arid appearance yet has feeling of a comfortable landscape style garden.

Fruit and Vegetables at Hampton Court Palace
Gardeners all across the country are busy harvesting all kinds of crops at this time of year but unfortunately there wasn’t much of it at Hampton Court Palace. We had to look hard to find any but when we did they were excellent, with fine examples of fruit, including strawberries and raspberries as well as vegetables such as courgette and tomatoes. As there wasn’t much in the way of produce we asked a few of you at the show what you grow and how you try to achieve RHS standards.
Jane from North Yorkshire was really impressed with the strawberries at the show. She’s been growing strawberries for years and has found that to get the longest harvest you need to plant a mixture of early, mid and late strawberries and to cover them with a cloche at the start of the season to give them the best start in life. She recommends always growing them in the ground if you can as container grown strawberries just don’t perform the same.
Brian from Brighton was on the hunt for the best courgettes to see if they compared to his. He showed us a picture of his Tuscany courgettes and we were very impressed. He told us that many years ago slugs and snail decimated his crop so he took to planting his courgettes in containers and has never looked back. He said that by planting them in deep and wide pots you can completely control and customise your rooting zone, adding in organic matter, water retention gel and slow release fertiliser, giving the plant exactly what they need. He also sits the pots in a shallow tray and waters from below; this seems to give better results.