The wonders of RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

250,000 flowers is the headline boast for Hampton Court Flower Show, now I admit I made no attempt to count them but I am relaxed about the number of flowers seen so it's probably there or there about.
It has taken me a while to get to love Hampton, it's been a long courtship, but last year I felt it's magic and this year has confirmed it. This year in particular I think the quality of the show gardens was impressive. People keep asking me which is my favourite so I will talk you through my contenders. 
First up has to be the Blind VeteransUK - It's all about community garden designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and  Dan Bowyer and won a deserved gold (check) medal. This garden has a prime location and on Press Day was swarming with VIPSs including the Duchess of Wessex, the most important VIPs were of course the ex-servicemen who were there resplendent in their medals.
The structures on the garden worked brilliantly with the planting. No detail was rushed and it is no surprise that the construction team also were recognised for their skill and attention to detail.
Moving on to Paul Hersey Brookes  and his Viking Cruises World of Discovery Garden.  This is also a gold medal winning garden and again rightly so.  Bearing in mind only a few weeks ago Paul was winning gold at Chatsworth Flower Show, this is an impressive year for him. 
I can't tell you which bit I like best, the planting is superb and enhances the beautiful pale blue of the structure. Then there is gold urn the colours of which are picked out by the bronze fennel and other plantings. It is a master class in how to plant. 
On a smaller scale in size and budget there is The Colour Box garden designed by Charlie Bloom and Simon Webster.  This garden uses colour to great effect. It achieved a silver gilt medal and I don't know where it lost points but it looks goldish to me.
The Perennial Sanctuary Garden designed by Tom Massey also received a silver gilt medal, yet to me glittered quite goldly.
The swirls of colour were a delight.  It is designed in a spiral form to signify the journey that Perennial aim to help their clients make. I am rather a fan of the work that Perennial do helping horticulturalists who may need some support when times get hard.
There are sparks of bright colour such as The Journey of Life Garden designed by Edward Mairis.  I sort of felt I should not like this garden as much as I did.  It is bright and garish and actually in a sad grey world it seemed a welcome bit of cheer.  
Also giving cheer were the Great Gardens of the USA this one is The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel designed by Sadie May Studios Ltd has a 70s vibe that probably raised more nostalgia than I expected.
 The Oregon Garden, also by the same designer was a fantastic example of a garden that fitted its environment. 
The Not For Sale Garden, designed by Mark Whyte and Sharmaine Ferguson, is a stark conceptual garden with an important message about the horrors of the ivory trade.  The archway, that visitors can walk through, represent the average number of elephants illegally killed every day in Africa.  It makes the point well.  
The On the Edge: The Centre for Mental Health Garden designed by Frederick Whyte also is about a journey, the one that people with mental health may take to manage their condition.  It was superbly planted, the blues in particular shine out.
Andy Sturgeon can always be relied upon to deliver something rather special with his designs, the RHS Watch This Space feature garden is no exception.  it was built by landscaping apprentices, students and trainees and is meant to show the possibilities that landscaping as a profession can bring.

There are so many gardens, I cannot show them all, but the above are the ones that particularly shone out for me.

One of my favourite parts of any of these shows is the Floral Marquee. The skill and knowledge of the nurseries who display shines out.

All sorts of plants are highlighted and displayed in many imaginative ways. I could spend hours in there, and often do.
In terms of plants, this Allium Red Mohican caught my eye,
as did these bloomers with accompanying Sanguisorba Lilac Squirrels, which is a favourite sanguisorba for its look and name.  
There are topiary cats,
 and welly-wearing sheep,

These brilliant scarecrows made by local school children, some of which scared me a little.....
and this large turfed cockeral seemed rather pleased with himself.

The big question is did I buy any plants, I bought a cactus.  I tell people often I don't like cactii, it appears I am mistaken. 
I took one look at this little baby cactus and thought 'macrame hanging pot', it shall be done.

RHS Hampton Court is a grand day out. It sits in the shadow (or is it bathed in the glory?) of Hampton Court Palace.  It is a huge show and I must have walked several miles as I wandered around.  
Now I am already looking forward to next year.