RHS Hampton Court Show 2010

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the biggest flower show in the world, has benefited visitors with the unseasonably hot British summer this year, although some of the displays might have struggled as a result.

Early summer is the season for the Royal Horticultural Society's annual flower shows. The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the biggest, not only of the RHS' flower shows, but is the largest flower show in the world, occupying 33 acres of land at Hampton Court Palace.

Whilst not as established as Chelsea, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is rapidly proving itself as a world class event and one well worth a visit. If you've never attended an RHS flower show before, then Hampton Court would probably be your best choice. While not as prestigious as Chelsea, it's three times bigger, with more to see and do and certainly less crowded and therefore a much more pleasurable experience.

Taking place this year from 06 - 11 July, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was blessed by stunningly hot weather; ideal for the throngs of visitors who usually have to bring their umbrellas with them, but maybe a little harsh for some of the displays that were probably suffering towards the end of the week.

This Year's Theme

Last year's show celebrated 500 years since King Henry VIII's accession to the throne with the theme for the show being Henry and his six ill fated wives. This year's theme was William Shakespeare and in particular, the comedies that he wrote.

On Show

So, what was the show actually like?

Scarecrow Competition

ScarecrowAs in previous years at Hampton Court, a scarecrow competition was held for school children, with all of the scarecrows displayed at one of the site's main entrances near the small show gardens.

The theme this year followed the show's main theme of William Shakespeare with the scarecrows depicting characters from his comedies, which as usual inspired some very imaginative entries from the school children.

Show Gardens

The large show gardens at Hampton Court are never quite as impressive as those at Chelsea. Having said that, the gardens are probably more conservative and much more representative of what an average gardener is more likely to aspire to or appreciate.

There were also six small show gardens representing plays from the great bard:

  1. Twelfth Night
  2. As You Like It
  3. A Midsummer Night's Dream
  4. The Merchant of Venice
  5. The Taming of the Shrew
  6. Much Ado About Nothing

A bit of a mixed bag, with one or two excellent gardens, but on average; uninspiring.

My favourites are always the small gardens. Perhaps this is because they're all a much more achievable for your average person, or wouldn't look out of place in a real garden.

My least favourite were the conceptual gardens; I just can't see the point personally. They're not gardens in the classic sense and not something that the average sane individual would ever consider giving a home to, so why bother? Clearly the RHS are trying to be hip, cool and trendy doods. Perhaps they've been smoking a little too much of the exotic foliage that they've been growing!


There is the usual plethora of stalls selling everything from a pair of garden gloves to garden sheds the size of Luxembourg. If you really wished, you could probably spend the equivalent of the entire national income of a small African country just on gardening paraphernalia. Alternatively, you could keep your hands in your pockets and go and see some of the show gardens and flower displays? Just a thought...

Flower Displays

This year the show combined its previous flower marquees into one cavernous tent. As you'd expect the displays were very impressive, although Chelsea as always, did have the edge on them, maybe because many of the displays were at Chelsea also and were beginning to take a little strain. This year the flower tent was a welcome place to shelter from the unrelenting summer sun; makes a pleasant change from the wind and the rain though.

In Summary

I prefer the Hampton Court flower show to Chelsea, even though the quality of displays aren't quite on par with Chelsea.

Hampton Court's much bigger, with more to see and you certainly won't feel claustrophobic compared to Chelsea.

If anything stood out thematically (apart from the Shakespeare theme), it would have to be the propensity to push bio diversity and wildlife friendly gardens, particularly for the bees.

Last year's theme was Henry VIII and his six wives. This year it was the comedies of William Shakespeare. What will we see next year?

For more information see:
RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010


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