Thursday, 15 July 2010

As seen at Hampton Court

 Umbrellas: The traditional symbol of the Hampton Court Flower Show, this year only needed for shade

The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show takes place every July, which usually means it is a sea of mud (coming, as it does, just after the rain magnets of the tennis at Wimbledon and the Glastonbury festival). This year, all three events stayed dry... isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

1852: A relic from the last time it was dry at Hampton Court in July...
A luminous damselfly seeks water in the parched, rocky ground...

Truly, it didn't rain, but it poured

Hampton Court traditionally has lots of water gardens on show, but far fewer this year (although the show area is surrounded - and bisected - by the canals of the palace and the nearby river Thames). Following on from last year's theme of Tudor-inspired displays, this year's theme was Shakespeare - with a series of gardens based on his comedies and other tenuous links throughout the show.

A 'flower head' from The Taming of the Shrew garden, a Silver medal winner, designed by Yvonne Mathews
Those little glass tiles were all over the place

When this copper and glass confection was shown at Chelsea, someone contacted the BBC to ask: "What are those blue flowers?" Some sort of thistle possibly, but Alan Titchmarsh just grinned cheekily...
Low maintenance planting

Our favourite small garden was An Artist's Garden, created by James Callicott with Kati Crome. He's only 15 (the show's youngest ever designer), which meant he wasn't allowed on to the showgrounds during the build for safety reasons - one way of getting out of all the hard work. The painting in the foreground wasn't started until the weekend before the show opened - it includes some plants in amongst the paint (sedums).
It got a silver-gilt medal (second after gold), but we thought it better than any of the three small gardens that got gold (one was a lacklustre Japanese garden we thought would have been lucky to get silver).

Certainly the exhibitor who got this Bronze medal didn't agree with the judges decision. (We've blurred out the name to save any blushes).

M'ybe them there judges should walk the plank, me hearties....
and you've guessed it - this Legoland garden won a (Long John) Silver medal. Aaarh, Jim lad...

Another favourite garden, but for different reasons, was the Tyrrells Harvest Celebration garden, by Karen Rogers (silver gilt), which was designed to launch new, limited edition crisps: Chips Nouveau, made from the first potato harvest. The flavour was Butter and Mint, which much tasting convinced us needed further investigation (just a hint of mint), so we bought a large bag….

 Sunflowers attract both honey bees and bumblebees

Tasting also played a part on the the Copella Bee Garden, designed by Sadie May Stowell (also silver gilt). Copella was handing out glasses of their apple juices (the apple and elderflower was really nice), as well as packets of bee-friendly seeds. We didn't get as good a look at the garden as we'd have liked, because the BBC was recording an item at the time, but the planting was very bee friendly (particularly for honey bees, which play a vital role in pollinating apple trees). The layout of the garden was inspired by the bees’ waggle dance and the design reflected the journey from plant to hive.

The Bee Bee C cameraman in the bee friendly garden.

Probably the biggest attraction for bees at the show (literally) were all the sunflowers. Not only were they in many of the gardens, but there was a whole field of sunflowers at the centre of the show, in a new exhibit on growing food. The bees were, most definitely, having a field day....
One happy bee...
Several happy bears

Hope they remember to do the washing up after all that partying.

There are always lots of bits of garden art at these shows, and here are a couple we'd like in our own garden, although our urban foxes might find them a little hard to chew...

...This stall by Graculus Sculptures was just plain bats!

A picture of gentility: We know you might find the temptation too hard to resist, but "Please ...try... not to touch these grasses"

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