and then without fanfare but with much aplomb RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival straightened its shoulders, held its head high and made its covid-safe entrance. The wind in the trees sighed 'at last' and the gnomes on the stalls donned their face masks and got ready for the visitors to arrive.
The sun shone and despite some threatening clouds every now and again it was a good day to visit the show when I went. Sometimes Hampton Court can be very much on the warm side, but it was just right on this day. On arrival I had to show my evidence of having either two vaccinations or a recent negative Covid test. Evidence was confirmed and in I went. I walked in a few paces, paused and enjoyed a moment of hope that life would restore to a normal again.
There is a mix of show gardens and RHS Feature gardens. This is the 'RHS Iconic Hero Garden' which honours Tom Stuart Smith who has designed this garden. It is the most superbly planted garden and the plants were all grown by the Sunnyside Rural Trust, a charity that provides training and work for people with learning disabilities. I had a really nice chat with one of the representatives from the Trust and I was very impressed learning about the work that they do.
This is 'Extinction' by the designed Felicity Rourke Smith and is one of the Global Impact Gardens. The garden gives a strong message about the impact of our behaviour on our planet. The information for the garden says "This recently crashed aircraft represents a paradox, being one of mankind’s notable achievements in technology, while contributing to climate change and the rapid spread of Covid-19." I get the message, I understand and agree with the urgency that we have to be changing how we live and I appreciate that this garden is meant to make me feel uncomfortable and it succeeded in that. I was disturbed by it and it made me think about all the people who have died and been injured or gone missing in air accidents.
The RHS Feature Garden 'No Dig Allotment Garden' designed in association with Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty was a garden to behold! You can walk through the garden and Charles and Stephanie were there to talk to people and share their knowledge.Lucy Hutchings of She Grows Veg standing by her allotment garden.
I loved these allotment gardens, they felt like fun, accessible and inspirational. If I may be a permitted just a little peeve, they did feel a little over-show-gardened. Everything was immaculate, all the veg was perfect and the flowers gleamed. I would have loved to have seen a dirtier, more real feeling allotment. Where was the slug damage, where was that clump of couch grass that refuses to be removed? These allotments are selling the perfect dream and that is great, but some smudges around the edges would have been nice. Would less perfect gardens be less inspirational? That is a question that I cannot answer for certain, I suppose the answer is maybe.
Then it was time to see some more show gardens.
I had a very enjoyable day. This RHS show is huge and means a lot of walking but it is so much fun I find I only realise when I get home worn out. What a joy it is to have events again to go to. I have been to some smaller events but this is the biggest so far in this Covid world. I think like many people I hesitate a little before setting off sometimes at the moment and I appreciate that there were fewer people there when I visited then there will be on other days, but it was good to be able to go.
Next RHS stop will be Tatton. I am excited already.
RHS Hampton Court Palance Garden Festival 2021 is from July 6th - 11th. At the time of writing there were some tickets left for Sunday but it is otherwise completely sold out and the website says that there should be no travel to show without a ticket.