Sunday, 20 July 2014

Hampton Court Flower Show - for a few gardens more

Three posts is probably enough from a Flower Show in my view, so this is the final post relating to Hampton Court Flower Show and I should warn you, it does involve a bit of an epiphany.

It strikes me that when designing a show garden, something I know absolutely nothing about and I may just be proving by what I am saying, that you need to grab people's attention really quickly.  Most visitors are wandering around and talking with their companions and you need something that will make them stop and pause and look at what you have done.  Something has to catch their eye or they will just keep going maybe with a passing 'that's nice' as they go.  Building something huge in your garden will generally have some impact.  The Quiet Mark Treehouse with landscaping designed by David Domoney could hardly be missed.  I believe this garden is a 'feature' and not a show garden as such.  I was not at all confused by this.  It was an amazing structure and may I say some rather nice planting too.  Sadly I was not that keen on the car element, which is not because |I do not like cars but for some reason I rarely like to see them in the garden show context, it always jars.
The Essence of Australia was the Best in Show, this is probably because it was clearly the best in my uneducated opinion.  It did it no harm at all that it was a very hot day when I was viewing this, so the hot colours and native planting gave it a real atmosphere.  I really liked the dark orange of the paint, it picked up the colours of the soil and planting well.

The Flintknappers Garden was also worthy of note, it also provided a fine demonstration that where-ever you stood to take a photo, there was someone doing exactly the same thing on the other side.  It was a great garden, beautifully put together with fine planting.
The NSPCC Legacy Garden by Adam Woolacott and Jonathan Smith demonstrated well the decades of the history of charity.  It also managed to draw attention to itself in simple and fairly understated ways, the addition of a pull-along duck was enough to make me stop and concentrate on it (simple things.....)
The One Show Garden also made me pause, I had mixed feeling about it to be frank.  Its probably best described as I sort of liked it.  It had nice planting but there was nothing that made me enthuse.  This was also not a show garden apparently but I thought it would have got a medal of some sort if it had have been.
I rather liked the Vestra Wealth's Vista.  It just sort of worked.  Can't think of much more to say than that, it was a cracking bit of good design by Paul Martin.
As well as these show gardens there were other displays such as this giraffe-theme bedding plant display, which whilst I know we should all look down on bedding plants and probably have a little sneer, for the sheer love of colour and fun I thought this area was brilliant.
and this bright patch was just covered in bees.
There were some odd looking by-standers at the show
and this bint had had a serious wardrobe malfunction yet seemed quite pleased about it
All in all Hampton Court was great fun and a hugely enjoyable show.

So, to my epiphany, I realised this as I was walking past the show gardens on one side of a walkway with selling stalls on the other.  I realised that my attention had not been on buying and not really as much on show gardens either as I would have liked.  I am clearly a simple soul, I either want to go to buy or to look, I am not good at both.  So Chelsea will remain the one I want to see most show gardens at and if I go again to Hampton (which I probably will) I shall maybe focus more on buying - or not, who can say.

Other Hampton Posts:

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Big Butterfly Count - 19th July - 10th August

The nice lady from Butterfly Conservation got in touch with me again and asked if I would help promote the Big Butterfly Count that starts on July 19th.  It seemed churlish to refuse especially as I do love watching butterflies and moths flit about in the garden.  I am also remarkably ignorant about the names of butterflies and moths though thankfully after tweeting photos of the ones in my garden I now know the names of the ones I see most frequently.

The Big Butterfly Count is a survey to help Butterfly Conservation use the numbers of butterflies and moths as an indicator of how healthy the environment is.  Their website explains that butterflies and moths are good indicators of change in the environment as they react faster than other species.  They go on to say that they make a good 'early warning' indicator that something is amiss.  The survey itself was first carried out in 2010 so it is now building up a body of data that will prove invaluable as it is carried out year on year. 

To take part in the survey you just have to count butterflies for fifteen minutes on a bright sunny day.  The website gives full instructions and there are various goodies to download including ID posters. There is also an app for IOS and Android, now I do love a good app.

So I commend this survey to you and hope you if you do take part that you have fun doing so.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Hampton Court Flower Show - some gardens

The thing about Hampton Court Flower Show is that it is big.  No I mean really big, you have to buy a catalogue with a map in it otherwise you could wander around for hours and still not find what you actually wanted to see.  I think you could easily miss huge chunks of the show if you were not careful.

I had not watched a lot of the tv coverage before going, by not much I mean I watched one programme that I recorded and I FFd through some of that.  So to a large extent I had no idea what the gardens were going to be like and I think this was not as bad a thing as I had feared as it meant I looked at them all as if for the first time.  What I knew I did want to see where the conceptual gardens.  I like the principle of these gardens because they are not necessarily replicating what I might see in other gardens, but they are trying to make me think.  Some do this more effectively than others.
This year there were the gardens based on the Seven Deadly Sins.  Some worked better than others, some were more crowd-pleasing/easy on the eye than others.  I rather liked the Dichotomy Garden (Greed) designed by Sarah Jane Rothwell.  I thought it made its message well.
Lust, by Rachel Parker-Soden was also worthy of note, I think I liked the orchids springing out of the couch best of all.
Though the reflecting pools could have been easily missed as people looked ahead to the 'Peep Show' greenhouse in the queue I was in to see it, which is a shame.
It has to be said though for sheer impact, Sloth, Quarry of Silences, probably took the biscuit, well the gold medal anyway.  It was designed by Sheena Seeks and whilst I cannot say I thought it worked from every angle (sorry), the element of the spades going up the incline was just a superb visual effect, helped hugely by the shadows cast by the sun.
Moving on, there were also gardens such as Connecting the Real Sound of Nature by Stefano Passerotti.
This was a real dramatic statement piece and whilst your eyes tended to go up to the structure, the planting around the base deserved a second look.
I have to say the structure made me think of the dufflepuds from The Voyage of the Dawntreader (C.S.Lewis), it reminded me of the bit where they are sleeping on their backs with their huge foot in the air shading them from the sun.

This is rather a brief glance really at some of the gardens and I will write a further post on the other show gardens that I particularly noted.  It is worth noting that whilst I have particularly noted some, this does not mean that I have not mentioned others that they are not also worthy of note, it might mean I just might have missed seeing them.  I know for certain at least one garden I intended to see I never found.  Did I mention the show is big?

Other Hampton posts:

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A visit to Hampton Court Flower Show

or, more accurately, a visit to Hampton Court Flower Show in the company of the Seven Dwarfs.
I do not go to Hampton Court Flower Show very often, this was my third visit.  The show often clashes with work commitments and so I usually go to Tatton instead.  This year Tatton clashes with a major work event so I had thought I would only be going to Chelsea.  The opportunity arose for me to go to Hampton and I thought why not.  I could only go on Saturday but I thought that it would be alright.  The drive down there was not too bad until I was six miles away when the traffic stopped and crawled and stopped for over an hour.  By the time I arrived at the show I was very hot and definitely in the company of dwarf no: 1 - Grumpy.
But the signs were good so I thought I would get a cold drink and maybe a sandwich and cool down for a bit before launching into the main site.  It was already a hot day but there was a girl band singing and plenty of chairs so I sat and thought I would relax and calm down a bit.
I am afraid, whilst they sang very well, I was not calmed.  I then decided to head for the floral marquee, surely communing with plants would lift my mood?
It was mighty crowded and hot in the floral marquee, enter Dwarf no: 2, Dopey, fancy thinking it would be calming!  I began to meander around (getting bashed by trollies and knocked into - Grumpy and Dopey were holding hands and skipping in front of me at this point which in itself is rather irritating).  So I went and had a chat with a nice man about grasses.  I had been having a twitter conversation the evening before about maybe adding some taller grasses to my Prairie Borders and this seemed like destiny playing a hand.  A nice chat later I was a) calmed and b) clutching seeds.
I wandered from this stall straight over to a fuchsia stall where I accidentally bought two plants.
No 1- Lady Bacon, nice and hardy, hardy fuchsias are good and something I have an increasing amount of.
No 2 Marlies de Keijzer this one is a bit tender apparently but I loved the tiny flowers so it will go into a pot so I can bring it inside to over winter.  I will also take contingency cuttings of it just in case I lose the main plant.

Welcome Dwarf No: 3 - Happy, how can one stay grumpy when you have bought some plants?  I decided the time was right to go and find ice-cream.  I found ice-cream remarkably easily, selling ice-cream on a day like this must be the easiest thing in the world, people were (quite literally) just queueing up for them.  The grounds were littered by people trying to find shade from the heat of the day.  I found a seat by the grand canal and thought calming thoughts, which were interrupted by a one-man band.  Yes, cymbals/drums - the lot.  I was still a bit headachey from the drive at this point so he was not hugely welcome.  I moved away quickly so that hopefully my grumpiness would be undetected.  A couple of paracetemol later (yes, you're ahead of me - hello Doc), and I was on my way again.
Despite the heat I do like the floral marquee, there are plants from all over the globe in there and of course many are for sale.
I nearly bought this plant, very nearly, just because it is an 'evergreen thing', that is my kind of labelling.
Did I mention it was crowded?  Some people were forgetting their basic Highway Code and stopping with signalling leading to small bumps and lots of sorries.  These signs were much needed.
My wanderings continued, I went into the Rose and floristry tent as I wanted to buy some roses from David Austin.  This was duly completed so I stood for a while in front of this, there isn't a dwarf called Confused, but if there was he would have been standing by the side of me at this point.
It is a huge show, I wandered and wandered and eventually I found my way to Tellytubby land.  I do like a bit of turf sculpture, I could liken my grassy knoll to turf sculpture, but in reality it is more of just a hump.
The hotter the day got the more I got tired (Hello Sleepy) and less able to work out what the big letters were saying to me.  I liked the big letters, but they kept being backwards.

At the end of a long hot day (did I mention it was hot?) I decided it was time to leave, but not before being entranced by the ingenuity of these two ladies.  Forget your knotted hankies a la Monty Python, these ladies had real style and panache:
This one won for simplicity and function,
but this one was just fantastic, hessian bag folding at its best.  It was also far more crowd friendly than the masses of parasols being used.  (Yes I was grumpy about them too).

Did I miss some dwarfs?  Well Sneezy is always with me as I have hayfever, but Bashful rarely appears on a day that involves Grumpy, they are a bit mutually exclusive.  I think most of the time their lesser known, yet frequent visitor, Sweary was with me, though thankfully the drive home was much better and shorter in time.

I did actually have a nice time really, but once the grumpiness has descended it does tend to rather cloud a day.  I am very pleased with my purchases and really looking forward to my roses arriving in  the Autumn.  I even thought I would like to visit again, but maybe if I am lucky I will be able to go in the week next time.

I did enjoy the gardens, so I shall write separately about them, without any trace of grumpiness (promise).

(The Seven Dwarfs as named here are trademarked by Disney)

Other Hampton Court Flower Show posts:

Thursday, 10 July 2014


You know that moment when you stand in front of a plant and words just cannot sum up what you are seeing, it is so beyond anything you have seen before?

Well that.

I have never seen a pelagonium so tall before, I was awestruck by it.  Now all I need is a good warm wall in a good heated greenhouse I could try and grow one like this myself.  Oh and a lottery win.