I visited Hampton Court Flower Show on the opening day – 7th July 2009
To help visitors who will be attending the show later in the week, and to have a record of the day for those unable to go this year – here is some information about my day out and what not to miss!
There are a number of car parks that can be used. We went to the Stud car park, which is ideal for those with mobility problems. The entrance name from this car park is the Longwater gate. They have an excellent free shuttle service that gives you a lift from where your car is parked to the entrance of the show, as the field is huge! Here is the map for travel infomation by the RHS.
Hint: Make sure you take note of which row you park your car in!!! Very important. If you think you will forget, take a photo of the stand number just in case!
You may need Wellies!! Also due to the rain, many of the seats outside will be soaking wet. My suggestion is to add a couple of plastic bags and tissues to your bag, to wipe off any surface pools and sit on the bag if needed.
As soon as you enter the show ground, I would advise you buy a catalogue, as this is essential in getting the most out of your visit. The catalogue is priced at £4.50 If you had a code (to use online when you purchased your tickets) to get a free copy of Carol Klein’s Grow your own journal, remember to pick one up from an RHS Stand.
Information about the awards for each garden and floral and plant exhibit.
To the right there is a children’s area - (Fifi Zone Tue-Sun Children’s zone sat-sun)
- The Floral Energy Studio (Section D)
We dashed into this floral studio as the rain began to plummet! What a delight it was, in the humid, packed out tent.
Please visit if you get the chance. All the exhibits were lovely, but my favourite was the Jane Packer display (FE 12). It was based around a tea party with a giant teapot and a lovely cake display made out of flowers. I was very tempted to buy the little tea cup and saucer sets that you could purchase with mini flowers.
two of my favourite things tea and flowers! Perfect.
Flower tea cakes stand
We also enjoyed Capel Manor College display (of the four elements of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water (FE5)
The Four Elements
All the displays were lovely to look at, so enjoy
There is also an area for talks and demonstrations.
Also in this section you will find a variety of shops, nurseries, information to suit every taste.
- The Small Gardens Section D
The Small Gardens were a delight as always, I sometimes prefer the smaller gardens as I enjoy the detail. All the small gardens are beautiful with a total of 13 gardens in this category.
The following are a few of my favourites -
- The British Heather Growers Association and Down To Earth Design, ( D1) was designed beautifully! It was definitely one of my favourites! Promoting heathers, in how we can use them, and why they are so useful.
- The Healing garden (D3) The Macmillian Cancer support with the perfumed Garden. This important garden set out to show the importance of plants and how they are used in medication. It provides a restful scene and accomplishes what it set out to do.
- Within Sound of the sea breeze ((D4) I really liked the name! The focus of this garden is on relaxation, with elements of a countryside seaside area, as well as the peace, it also reminds us the importance of recycling.
- The Dark side of beauty (D5) The title certainly gained my attention! Not only was it interesting to look at, but also sucessfully put across the important message of being aware of poisonous plants.
- The Teenage Santuary (D6) This was very interesting, as often younger children delight in the garden as they are fascinated by anything that moves, the sight, smell and touch qualities of plants, but often attracting the attention of teenagers to the joy of gardens can be difficult. This garden has been purely designed for them!
- Six Wives of Henry the 8th Gardens (Section D)
In this special feature there are 6 gardens on the subject of each of Henry the 8th’s wifes. Each designer has gone into great detail, looking at each of the wives characters. A lovely selection of gardens that can equally stand on their own as well as alongside the other gardens. Takes learning history to a whole new level and wish I had something like this when I did history at school!
- The Country Living Tent ( Area D / CLM)
Anyone who has read the Country living magazine will know what to expect. If you enjoy crafts, fashion and homewares, you will enjoy this exhibition and shopping area.
We then crossed the pontoon. Make sure you admire the long water and Hampton Court Palace as you cross over.
- For lunch, we headed over to the Palace Tearooms – in section B
The food was a good price, drinks a little pricey. You can spot deer through the window, if you are lucky as we were. :)The seating was fairly comfy, and it was a self service tea rooms.
There are plenty of places to give a rest to your weary feet, with outdoor and indoor facilities.
During the day, there are different time slots for various dances and demonstrations (as shown in catalogue). Unfortunately due to the horrendous weather I didn’t see this, but I am sure it will be wonderful to see.
- There is a marquee dedicated to ‘Growing Tastes’ a real foodies paradise! The Growing Tastes Growing Theatre has many demonstrations to tempt you to cook at home. Timetable can be found in your catalogue p121.
- Inspiring places – ideas to help brighten up a small area or garden, useful for people living in flats, shared housing apartments and so on. (You can find them C98 -110)
Don’t miss -
Grow your own Bra-skets & Plant-pants
As someone who loves flowers, I always head to the floral marquee at any show I go to, as you get the chance to be close and personal with your favourite flowers. I spent most of my time here as it is huge! There are three tents joined together, with every kind of flower and plant you would hope to see.
I love Sweepeas and was pleased to see an old favouite Eagle Sweet peas (FM30) as their displays are always amazing.
The beauty of the sweetpea
Also Downderry Nursery (FM85) had a magnificent display of lavender! The smell was incredible! The varieties and colour worked so well together, giving a glorious display.
Here is just a taster, but if you love plants and flowers, I advise you spend quality time in the amazing marquee. All the stands are manned by the specialist growers, and are only too pleased to help you with any query you may have. With many of the stands, not only can you admire, but also buy! I came away with a couple of lavenders to add to my growing collection and was treated by my husband to a wonderful mini Orchid from Burnham Nurseries Ltd (FM97)
I have to show you the next photo, taken of a wonderful Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis ‘Tarantella’. It really caught my eye! The detail is lovely! you can see this beautiful flower on The Old Walled Garden (FM86)
The Wonderful Hibiscus
If you are at the show all day, then try and fit in as many of the floral marquee stands if possible. If you only have the afternoon slot, have a look in your catalogue and check your favourite flowers and head for those, as you could easily spend the day looking at all the stands. I didn’t manage to get around all of them, due to the crowds, but I enjoyed the ones that I managed to see.
Rachels Organic (C93-95)- who are sponsoring the show have a stand, where you can test their yummy yogurts! Definitely worth a test. At the entrance to the show you will be offered a free telegraph goody bag, inside is a voucher for a slightly bigger tester to try! With the voucher I tried their strawberry yogurt and with the mini testers, I tried the rhubarb and gooseberry very yummy!
As you go around the gardens, many of them have leaflets about the designs, which are really interesting to read, so pick one up and add to your free bag, for later.
Has a mix of nursery’s and a lovely array of artwork and shops
The 5 Gardens that you can find in this area are called the ‘Sustainable Gardens’
All of the gardens, shows the many ways that we can implement changes in our gardens to make them more sustainable. The ‘I Promise’ Garden (B88) designed by students from year 6 of the St John the Divine Church of England School in London is delightful, as you look at the detail, they focus on each childs promises that they have made, worthy of your attention.
- Section A
- Catwalk in Bloom - Fashion using plants, flowers and foliage in their designs. Shows take place regularly throughout the day. The timetable of events is just outside the tent, or can be found on the RHS Website. I didn’t make it to see the shows in person, as I just didn’t have enough time. I am sure you will enjoy it!
If I am honest I have always struggled with the conceptual gardens, as I do love gardens overflowing with flowers, particularly cottage garden plants and wildflower meadows, but that’s not to say I am not interested in them. I didn’t get a great deal of time to look at them, as this was the time that we were hit by buckets of rain, thunder and lightning!
- The winner of the Conceptual Gardens was – ‘It’s hard to see’ designed by Rebecca Butterworth, Victoria Pustygina and Ludovica Ginanneschi. (A47)
First you see blackness surrounding a hole in the ground that has mirrors, surrounding a green planting scheme. I stood there for a while wondering what it meant, what I could take from it and what I did or didn’t like about it. The starkness of the black is a little startling! At first you overlook that there is a hole in the ground. I could see that there was a point being made, and felt it had something to do with our values as a society, what we look for first and maybe what we miss!
As I read about the garden it was a display to do with materialism and the artifical values we have surrounding our consumerism. It certainly makes you think. I am sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to really look in detail at the other gardens in this category. Whether you like it or not, it’s good for conversation, give it a go and see what you make of it all.
- Shopping – There are loads of stalls for every taste and need, from plant signs, gloves,sculptures, furniture, water features and so on…
- The Plant Heritage Marquee and the Tudor Rose Festival
- The Plant Heritage Marquee
This marquee and floral display is all about providing information and education; on making sure we value and keep the plants and flowers that we have now. There is a large seed collection which is a joy to look through.
There are around 18 exhibts from Dahlias, Poppys, Agapanthus, Roses, Iris, Dianthus and so on. If you have heard or even visited the amazing ‘Lost Garden’s of Heligan’ (PH19) they have a stand about their necessary work. Part of the exhibition is celebrating the bicentenary of the amazing William Lobb who went to South America and California. You can see the plants that were introduced to Britain. It’s a very interesting exhibit! I recommend you spend some time here.
2. Tudor Rose Festival - in celebration of the 500th Anniversary of Henry the 8th’s accession to the throne.
I was delighted to see a marquee full of the wonderful and Britains favourite flower – the rose
It was very hard to take photos unfortunately, as it was packed from the latest rain storm, but nonetheless I enjoyed what I could. Peter Beales (FR2) put on a grand show as usual, you can walk through his display with roses surrounding you from every angle.
I particularly enjoyed David Austin’s exhibit ((FR8), looking at the rose in weddings, it was very regal.
David Austin's exhibit
Apuldram roses (FR11) also had a lovely mix of roses, one of my favourites was the Lavender Ice Floribunda.
The beautiful 'Lavender Ice'
There is also an area for talks and demonstrations.
Each of the Show Gardens are worthy of a visit, each bringing a new style and design, there is sure to be something for every taste.
Our favourites were:-
- The Beekeepers Garden ((GW2) With the bee in serious decline, this garden is lovely to look at and educates all gardeners about what we must do to save this precious insect.
- Enchanting Escape (GW3) A bed in a garden! Well I have had days where I would like to be in comfort, in the middle of a wonderous garden full of wonderful sights and smells.
- Thailand: A Garden of Serenity (GW6) not only is this a garden that certainly brought an air of calm and serenity as the title suggests, but you can also sample one of their speciality drinks and have a thai massage!
- The Dragons Garden (GW7) Another garden I’m a bit biased by as it is near me! But it’s also a fantastic garden that brings so many things to the table. The scene, scent and education! Asking the question how can we protect our amphibians and reptiles?
- Pastures Bye (GW9) A garden from the Southend-on-sea Council, looking at the shoreline and esturies of the areas coast. it brings a touch of history to the scene.
Here are a couple of photos -
The Pastures Bye Show Garden
The Enchanting Escape Show Garden
Well I hope this blog has been useful to you, if you are going to the show or not.
I have supplied lots of web addresses for various organisations and companies, so that if you are unable to visit, you can check their websites for further information.
I think that even a whole day ticket doesn’t really allow you the time to see all the exhibits in detail. 2 days would be better for this event, but even if you don’t make it around everything, focus on the elements you think you would enjoy the most and enjoy and have fun!!
(C) Anita Hunt