RHS Hampton Court Show 2012
The grounds of the magnificent Hampton Court Palace play host once again to largest flower show in the world, occupying 34 acres; the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
Every RHS flower show has its own unique feel. The Chelsea Flower show is undoubtedly the most prestigious, having the character more of a fashion parade for plants and gardens. Likewise, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show has its own unique character which cannot really be directly compared to Chelsea on a like for like basis.
While all of the RHS shows retain many of the same key elements, such as the floral marquee and a range of show gardens, they also all have their own different emphases.
Some of the unique features found at the Hampton Court show include the Rose Marquee, the Conceptual Gardens and the annual children's scarecrow competition. The show also tends to have a strong emphasis on the cultivation of edible plants and environmental sustainability.
The Hampton Court flower show is the largest in the world (three times the size of Chelsea) and therefore has the space to spread out and offer a wide range of horticultural interest without ever feeling claustrophobic.
If Chelsea is the catwalk of the horticultural world, then Hampton Court is the Gardener's garden show.
I generally struggle accepting this category of show garden as I don't see them as "real" gardens. One of this year's exhibits for example, called "Chaos", comprised a lorry load of concrete blocks, painted cream and laid down in a neat grid pattern with a black border. The only plant in evidence was Duckweed in amongst the blockwork. Now correct me if you think I'm wrong, but by my definition a garden should have a few more plant species than that.
However, I am actually beginning to warm to this category of gardens. The key is in the context. Once you know what the garden is supposed to symbolise and why, and the parts of the story told by the individual elements of the garden, things become clearer as you "get" the garden.
The "Light at the End of the Tunnel" garden by Matthew Childs (pictured right) was particularly symbolic and won a Gold medal and the best in category award. Having said this, I'd never consider having them in my back garden, but equally well, that's not what they're about.
Small Show Gardens
I always love the small show gardens at Hampton Court, they are without doubt my favourite category and favourite feature of the entire show, giving real insight into what could be achieved in the modest space of your average suburban garden.
While budgets vary, one of the small gardens' designers produced an amazing garden that anyone would be proud of for a mere £7,000: "Our First Home, Our First Garden" designed by Nilufer Danis (pictured above) won Gold medal and best in the Low Cost, High Impact category.
It just goes to show that the limit is your creativity and not your budget. If your creativity is struggling then some of these small gardens should give you real inspiration and give your creative juices a refreshing boost.
A regular feature at the Hampton Court Flower Show is the Rose Tent. A marquee dedicated to the most quintessentially English flower; the Rose. The various nurseries show their wares with a mix of traditional plants and new releases to tempt your fancy. Along with the nursery displays of individual blooms, this tent also plays host to a themed display of floral art sculptures featuring roses of every colour and shade you could imagine.
Grow Your Own
Another key feature of the Hampton Court show is the Growing for Tastes Marquee dedicated to the growing of all manner of plants that are edible; fruit, vegetables and herbs.
This show has always been keen to promote vegetable gardening in addition to the more flamboyant and eye-catching floral displays and show gardens. Indeed, at Hampton Court you are often likely to see the two branches of horticulture seamlessly intertwined with many edible plants being incorporated amongst the planting of some of the show gardens.
This is a major feature of all of the RHS Shows with all of the UKs premier nurseries exhibiting their unique ranges of plants in breathtaking displays. If you have been to any of the earlier RHS shows this year and think you will see the same old displays, think again. While some of the nurseries undoubtedly regurgitate the same desings, other nurseries go to amazing lengths to try and produce new and exciting displays in search of that illusive gold medal.
Video of Our Day at the Hampton Court Flower Show
During our visit to the 2012 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show we took a video of our day, which resulted in 5 hours of film. We have compressed this video into 2 minutes which gives you a brief impression of a day at the show: