In July I had one of the best possible days out with my great friend Libby, visiting the Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Palace Flower Show near London.
I admit getting to it was a bit of a mission. Being in London in the first place meant a 27 hour flight. To reach Hampton Court Palace on the day we took the Underground, a mainline train to Richmond, then a boat up the Thames. We ran late for our train, so did the London Dash – sprinting up miles of escalators, surging through the ticket barriers, galloping onto the concourse at Waterloo whilst simultaneously looking to see what platform to head for, then pounding down the platform and throwing ourselves onto the train with our lungs bursting, expecting the doors to slam shut behind us. Then naturally were informed that due to a signal failure at Clapham Junction, the train wouldn’t be leaving for half an hour.
Never mind, it was well worth it. The show is on a mind-boggling scale with hundreds of tantalising exhibits. The show catalogue alone runs to 200 pages!
First, we found the Show Gardens. After the minimalist look that was so fashionable a few years back, it is great to see the return to an emphasis on plants rather than hard surfaces. The Jordans Wildlife Garden looked like it had been growing there for ages rather than just brought in days earlier.
‘The Forgotten Folly’ garden, below, came complete with ruined Gothic archway, which incidentally you can buy to order from redwoodstone.com.
The ‘Halo’ garden, above, won the prize in the RHS competition ‘Your Garden Your Budget’, for a garden with a budget of £13,000. The designer took his inspiration from a traditional Greek island, hence the blue halo which references the domes of the Greek Orthodox churches. This courtyard garden featured a great selection of drought-tolerant plants.
Next, the Floral Marquee, which seemed to be about 800 feet long and held 96 plant exhibitors. I envied the lucky locals who were buying all sorts of treasures!
It was a grand day out, quite inspirational and loads of fun. My one piece of advice is to get there as early as possible – the crowds built up steadily as the day went on until it got difficult to get a good look at the displays. I guess that’s when it would have been a good idea to find that Champagne & Pimms tent again…