Welcome to our special show newsletter from RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014
Every year we look forward to the show season and one of our favourite shows takes place in July. Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is always a joy to visit; from its historic waterside venue to the plants and vegetables on display, everything looks lush, healthy and happy to be there.
Specialist growers and top designers all come together in one venue with some breathtaking exhibits and there are lots of ideas to take away and plants to covet.
Even non-gardeners will find lots to see and enjoy, and there are plenty of exhibits to keep the children happy.
If you are going to the show, have a great time, we know you’ll enjoy your day as much as we did.
Even if you’re a seasoned show-goer there is always something to enjoy and inspire at Hampton Court. This year is no exception with the show offering all the usual attractions of a top class flower show; great show gardens, fabulous floral displays and lots to buy. Plus there are some new and exciting features such as the ‘Hands On’ stations where you can get involved with everything from making a World War 1 centenary poppy, to seed sowing and trying your hand at floristry; all under the careful guidance of an expert. Find these stations in the Grow and Escape zones.
Budding garden designers can also try new garden design techniques in Hands On Design (find this in the Inspire zone). If you’ve ever wanted to be a garden designer catch up with the RHS/BBC collaboration ‘Designs on Chelsea’. This is a brilliant opportunity to make your mark. If you don’t get to the show you can read about how to get involved on our blog pages.
Coming up roses
Roses are still among British gardeners’ favourite flowers. Always rightly popular for their scent and form they were once a ‘summer time’ only affair; flowering once in a spectacular burst of bloom that lasted a few weeks only, but many roses have been successfully ‘reinvented’ over the last 25 years by dedicated breeders. They’ve given us wonderful modern roses with old-fashioned looks and more disease resistance. These modern roses have blooms that repeat-flower to give a long season, from early summer right into autumn and they’ll thrive in our gardens with minimum fuss and maximum impact.
The Rose of the Year 2015 has been announced at Hampton Court and you can see it for yourself at the Festival of Roses & Floristry Marquee. Rosa ‘For Your Eyes Only’ has been bred by English breeder Chris Warner; the unusual dark eyes at the base of each petal give this lovely new rose its name.
This award winning, fragrant floribunda rose has taken more than 30 years of selective breeding to produce. Its bee friendly, five-petalled flowers appear in shades of dark pink with salmon and apricot tints and each flower has a glorious central ruff of stamens. This floribunda rose is said to have excellent disease resistance and it grows to around 90cm (3ft) x 90cm (3ft) in height and spread.
If you love roses the Rose marquee at the show is a circus themed Aladdin’s cave and it’s another must-see destination.
TIPS to keep your roses healthy and in flower all summer.
The new disease resistant roses available to gardeners are far less prone to fungal diseases, and even if affected well planted, healthy roses can shrug off most ailments. Keep plants in tip top health by planting them into good, nutrient-rich soil and keep them well watered.
Fight fungal infections Wet leaves and dry roots are recipes for disaster, causing unsightly white Powdery Mildew on leaves and stems. This is often a symptom of a rose with dry roots, and the condition is made worse by poor airflow. It’s easy to think that plants are adequately watered when we have plenty of sharp rain showers, but the reality is that if your rose is planted in a rain shadow, i.e. next to a wall or fence, it’s unlikely to get all the moisture it needs unless it’s given a regular and thorough soaking.
If fungal disease such as black spot does strike, clear up any fallen leaves to minimise the spread of infection. Spray with a preventative fungicide if you live in a known black spot area. When coal fires were the norm black spot was far less prevalent- the sulphur emissions stopped the fungal spores! Some gardeners still mulch their roses with ash so if you have a real fire its worth considering.
Deadhead roses for a continuous display. It’s a well known tip but worth repeating, because nothing encourages repeat flowering more.
Check for aphids and get rid of any infestations you see as soon as you can. Birds, hoverflies and ladybirds are major allies in the fight to keep aphids at bay. To encourage a diverse range of insects grow pollinator friendly plants and umbellifers such as fennel and anthriscus.
You can also use pesticide sprays but try not to use them in bright sunlight to avoid marking the foliage; and avoid spraying pesticides when bees are actively visiting plants.
Keep Children Interested
Whether it’s the colours, perfume and form of flowers, or the creepy crawlies that inhabit a garden that fascinate; a garden is a magical place when you’re a child. Interesting bugs and fabulous flowers are all at eye level so something as simple as walking through a field of wild flowers or tall grasses can become an unforgettable experience.
Spotting colourful Burnet moths, butterflies and ladybirds all contributes to the excitement.
If you want to instil a youngster with a lifetime’s passion for plants, or encourage their scientific interest in wildlife and insects, take the children to The RHS Invisible Garden at Hampton Court. It’s in the Escape Zone and promises a microscopic view of the bugs, beasts and beauty to be found lurking in a garden.
If bugs and beasties aren’t for you there are still lots of child friendly exhibits.
The NSPCC Legacy garden is a charming garden, Teddy Bear’s always welcome! And Hedgehog Street had its very own Mrs Tiggywinkle in residence when we visited.
Every year at Hampton Court there are exhibits aimed especially at children; last year the scarecrows were amazing and this year the School Scarecrow Competition is back again; this time it celebrates the First World War. These scarecrow displays are just so inventive! Along with the veterans and nurses there was even a war horse scarecrow! You’ll take away plenty of inspiration from the show for summer-holiday garden projects that will keep the whole family interested.
|Ask the experts
From the large trade stands to smaller specialists, the diversity of plants and flowers on show makes us proud to be part of such a knowledgeable horticulture industry.
From brilliantly coloured gladioli, disas and dahlias to succulents and bonsai, all are on display in the floral marquees plus lilies, lavenders and alliums; rubbing shoulders with masses of choice perennials, trees and shrubs .
Make a beeline for the Grow Zone and the Floral Marquee. These are must see destinations for every keen gardener. Here on show is everything a keen gardener could hope for, from home grown vegetables and fruit to ornamentals and exotic plants.
The garlic on display in the Growing Tastes marquee really made our mouths water!
There are always plenty of experts on hand too, so ask questions and make notes; you’ll never get a better opportunity to pick the brains of specialist growers, and most are only too happy to give amateur gardeners encouragement and advice.
Don’t break the bank!
Gardening on a budget is a theme close to all our hearts and the RHS have a series of show gardens called ‘Your Garden, Your Budget’. These gardens have been designed by landscapers to four set budgets, each costing from 7K - 15K. The lowest priced gardens range in style from woodland inspired ‘Green is the Colour’ to the wonderful, wine-inspired ‘Bacchus Garden’; partly inspired by Hampton Court Palace’s ‘Great Vine’ which was planted in 1769 and is one of the largest grapevines in the world.
At the top of the budget a Greek island is the inspiration for ‘Halo’. Its planting conjures up the hillsides and wild flowers of Greece and the bright blue halo represents the Greek orthodox religion.
The most expensive garden is Alexandra Froggatt’s wildlife friendly garden. Called ‘Garden of Solitude’ it uses plenty of upcycled and recycled materials plus soft naturalistic planting.
We all love looking at the beautifully staged and manicured show gardens, and it’s only natural to covet one of the many exquisite greenhouses at the show! But making a beautiful garden at home doesn’t need to be an expensive pastime. If you’re a budget- conscious gardener take a look and see what ideas you can take away to translate into your own purse-friendly green spaces.
Tips: Choose great value plants that are ‘good doers’. Perennial plants can go in small and will soon bulk up. Hard working, good looking perennials just get better year after year as they grow and establish.
If you want a natural planting scheme there are plenty of cultivated perennials such as centaurea (perennial cornflowers) and achillea that blend naturally into a wildflower scheme. Or add herbs such as bay, marjoram and rosemary for scent and colour as well as great flavour
A grape vine is a great feature in a warm, sheltered garden, offering shade and, after a year or so, bunches of delicious grapes. But even if your vine is less than productive for the first few years the leaves are excellent for cooking, the flavour is lemony and they make delicious middle eastern-style dolmades. Pick large healthy leaves, blanch them in boiling water and use to enclose meat or rice for homemade stuffed vine leaves.
If you’re looking to add colour early in the year, spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils can fill borders with colour for months on end; from early spring until midsummer, and they’ll jazz up displays in pots and window boxes too.
Show and Summer Gardens
The show gardens at Hampton Court 2014 are always inspirational, this year they are grouped into several categories including Show, Summer and Conceptual. The Show and Summer Gardens are in the Escape Zone; and they offer a wealth of planting ideas and design features to copy.
Our favourites were hard to decide on but these gardens are definitely at the top of our list.
A Hampton Garden features beautiful traditional planting with trees, shrubs, perennials and roses, plus a living green wall planted up as a backdrop.
The Forgotten Folly is a garden with a completely different feel; it’s a romantic blend of reclaimed stone walls, cottage style planting, waterfalls and streams.The One Show Garden is inspired by the Roman city of Bath. It features nine pools and a beautiful ‘hazy’ planting scheme with mist rising from the water features.
Jordans Wildlife Garden is a thought provoking mix of wildflowers and grasses and some soft planting. The grass maze mown through the garden breaks up the space and there is a surprisingly beautiful straw bench.
Look beyond the designs when you visit the show and take a close look at the plants. Most of the gardens use very common plants put together in creative ways. Alliums and agapanthus are contrasted with grasses and soft ‘frothy’ plants. Annuals such as cosmos feature in several show gardens.
Good colour combinations
Hedgehog Street had some lovely colour combinations including toffee-coloured Kniphofia contrasting with grasses and dark-leaved shrubs.
The conceptual garden Lust has a headline grabbing perspex case ... but the soft planting around its path and water feature is equally sensational!
The sardine-can water feature in the Gluttony garden is humorous and shows you can make a water feature from almost anything! It even had a water lily.
The Conceptual gardens are in the Inspire Zone and this is the place to go if you want to see cutting edge designs and awe inspiring conceptual gardens.
Whether you love or hate the turf sculptures and quirky installations they challenge our view of gardening and that’s what this part of the show is all about.
With the theme for the Conceptual gardens being the Seven Deadly Sins we were really looking forward to seeing how the designers of the gardens had interpreted their brief...
Wrath has a sting in its tale – Go and see (and feel?) it for yourself...all we will say is don’t stand too close...!
Gluttony E123 highlighted food waste and made us feel good about growing our own. It had a brilliant sardine can water feature too.
Lust was self explanatory – you’ll see why when you go and see this one for yourself!
The Grass is always Greener expressed lawn envy, but the best lawns were made into Turf Sculptures!
Lawns are meant to be envied, so if yours needs some TLC to regain its top spot on the block start a dedicated lawn care regime.
Recycle and upcycle any old or interesting items, its money-saving and right on trend!
Be imaginative and don’t be put off from turning your ideas into reality. It’s your space- so do what feels good!
Britain in Bloom is 50 years old this year, it’s become something of a horticultural institution and many older gardeners have grown up with the competition, remembering parents and grandparents getting involved with sowing and planting. Masses of bedding plants went into making neighbourhoods as attractive as possible.
Jon Wheatley has designed a garden to celebrate everything Britain in Bloom stands for today, and to look back at its past. Don’t miss it! Called 50 Golden Years: A Celebration of Britain in Bloom, you can find it in the Escape Zone along with the other Show and Summer gardens.
You can walk through this exhibit and there is so much to see and admire; it contains all the ingredients of a perfect garden. A beautiful border with roses and traditional perennial plants, giant sunflowers (complete with a resident giraffe), pristine vegetables, traditional bedding schemes and lush green turf.
Back in the sixties when the competition started pelargoniums were considered pretty exotic and epitomised the foreign glamour of the latest holiday destinations! Baskets of fuchsias and petunias were the stars of the show with French marigolds, lobelia and sweet Alison (Lobularia) the height of fashion. Some things have changed, for instance our concern with wildlife has meant more naturalistic planting schemes, but there are still plenty of pristine bedding plants spilling from tubs and baskets and the aims of Britain in Bloom have stayed the same: to encourage everyone to take pride in their community and put on the best show of flowers possible.