Midsummer trends from Europe
Hampton Court Flower Show has exhibits of particular interest to SA
KIRSTENBOSCH’S participation at London’s Chelsea Flower Show – 38 exhibits winning 33 gold medals – has provided a direct interest for South Africans for decades. But for all of Chelsea’s prestige, the largest flower show in the world takes place at Hampton Court Palace every July.
Much younger than Chelsea, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was established in 1990, and takes place in 34 acres of garden surrounding one of Britain’s most famous palaces. Situated 20km south-west of London, this major midsummer gardening event includes 34 gardens, 600 exhibitors and a spectacle of flowering roses.
Of particular interest to South African gardeners is the fact the Hampton flower show focuses on environmental issues, outdoor patio gardens, designs by young landscapers, school food gardens and growing your own food. In 1998, a gold medal award-winning food garden created by the Leyhill Open Prison at Hampton Court Palace interestingly provided the basis for the film Greenfingers (2001), starring Dame Helen Mirren.
Internationally acclaimed wildlife exhibits were to be seen at last week’s show. The Eden Project created a massive butterfly dome that featured a magnificent array of beautiful tropical butterflies, and an entire Bee Garden marquee provided demonstrations and advice on gardening for bees and beekeeping.
The gloomy recession in Britain remains a backdrop to all garden shows, and celebrity customised henhouses were auctioned for charity at the show.
The large grounds at Hampton Court Palace offer young designers a platform for experimenting. A conceptual garden category with the theme of “the changing environment” drew a huge amount of media attention, and succeeded in ruffling the feathers of many traditionalists. Young designers included a range of old fridges in one garden, and a giant grass claw gouging the earth in another. Several exhibits were stylishly blackened visions of burnt-out forests – complete with 2m artistic flames and tombstones dedicated to nature destroyed.
Among the 34 large gardens created by landscape designers for this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show were a number of trends relevant to local gardeners:
Multi-cultural gardening: Secluded, sociable patio spaces are now being designed to celebrate and mirror the diverse and dynamic cultural make-up of modern society. The vibrant colour of walls and floor surfaces, together with sculptures and plants from across the world, reflect different cultures and horticultural traditions – all in one garden.
The gold-medal winning “Layers and Links” garden was created by a designer of Turkish descent who blended diverse elements – blue walls, artistic ironwork, patterned floors and English meadow garden – into a single garden.
The garden “August 1963 – I have a dream” celebrated 50 years of progress in racial integration and equality since Martin Luther King jr’s famous speech that month. Designed as a place for contemplation, the garden included paving and water features inspired by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Blocks of planting represented racial segregation and racial equality, while water features with white and black water cascades flowed into the centre of the garden to meet in a single pool.
Colour your garden: Bright colours dominated many of the patio gardens this year. The “Four Corners” meadow garden included only plants that flowered in sunset shades of burnt orange, rust and gold. The design was inspired by the ancient Chahar Bagh Persianstyle garden layout, and was divided into four areas by rills around a water fountain. Picture frames on the fence of the garden were filled with miniature succulents (Sempervivum) in the tradition of vertical gardening.
Bright orange was also the backdrop for a 1950s-themed garden which celebrated the low-cost, highimpact era of “Mid Century Modern”. Inspired by a vintage advertising poster, the garden included a patio and pool in a secluded seating area.
Blooms in red, orange and yellow also dominated “The Hot Stuff Garden”, which had a circular terrace with patio chairs.
Food gardens: The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show specialises in cooking demonstrations and food gardens. The most impressive food garden created last week was entitled “A movable feast”. Inspired by army wives, the garden showed how to create a food garden that can be transported to wherever army families are relocated, making use of inexpensive, colourful containers.
The planting scheme featured the ingredients needed for a feast, while a river of yellow planting symbolised the ribbon of hope used www.ludwigsroses.co.za DISTRICT SIX: A guided tour of District Six with the Cape Natural History Club. Tomorrow, 9.30am-noon. Booking essential. Contact Eleanor on 021 762 1779. JULY GARDENING: A talk by Sandy Munro on what to do in your garden this month. Thursday: Stodels Bellville at 10am and Stodels Milnerton at 1pm. Contact Deirdre de Wet on 021 919 1108 or e-mail Deirdre@stodels.com www.stodels.com FYNBOS: Attend a talk on fynbos gardening with Jacky de Fynne. by military families when a loved one is away on a tour of duty.
Promoting the establishment of school food gardens has taken on a new urgency in recessionary Britain. The Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening uses the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show as a stage to honour the country’s best school gardens and identify heroes in school gardens across the country.
Notwithstanding the glamorous platform given to British schools at Hampton Court, South Africa’s own school food gardening initiative is Thursday: Stodels Kenilworth at 10am and Stodels Constantia at 1pm. Contact Deirdre de Wet 021 919 1108 or e-mail Deirdre@stodels.com www.stodels.com ROSE PRUNING: Attend a winter pruning demonstration. Next Saturday, 9.30am. Western Cape Rose Society, Durbanville Rose Garden Clubhouse, Durbanville Road. Contact Joy Webb on 083 583 3379. GUIDED GARDEN WALK: Join Heidi Timm for a stroll through Kirstenbosch’s upper garden. Next Saturday, 10am to noon. Walk is free, but garden fees apply. Booking essential on 021 799 8783. still well ahead of the curve internationally.
Established in 1990 by Food and Trees for Africa, and sponsored by Engen and The Woolworths Trust, the Edu-Plant campaign has trained more than 40 000 educators in food gardening and greening for schools.
More than 600 schools across the country are assessed annually, and 60 make it to the finals, with 21 honoured by winning in various categories. Last year, the top award for the best school food garden in the Western Cape was won by Vergesig Primary School in Robertson. PLANT HACK: Join a plant hack at Pringle Bay. July 28, 8-11.30am. Contact John Whitehead on 028 273 8807. RESTIOS, GRASSES: A talk on growing restios and grasses in your garden. July 31, 10am. Morne’s Super Plants, 150m north of Tokai & Main roads, Tokai. Contact 021 715 4666. INDIGENOUS PLANTS: A talk on the propagation of indigenous plants, by Trevor Adams, hosted by Roomtogrow. July 31, 10.30-11.30am. Sanlam Hall (Gate 2), Kirstenbosch. Talk is free, but garden fees apply. No booking. Contact Cathy on 021 465 6440 or 072 201 2535.
LAYERS AND LINKS: A designer of Turkish descent created this secluded, sociable space, designed to celebrate and mirror the diverse and dynamic cultural make-up of modern Britain.
AT HOME: Two large armchairs are at the centre of a garden entitled Home Spun.
BUTTERFLY HAVEN: Butterfly gardening was promoted in a butterfly dome, a re-creation of the Eden Project’s famous Rainforest Biome in a 25mdiameter, 9m-high dome.