Fes­ti­val fun

An­nie Green-Army­tage kicks off an oc­ca­sional se­ries on gar­den shows and fes­ti­vals with a sum­mer cel­e­bra­tion of RHS Hamp­ton Court Palace Flower Show

EDP Norfolk - - Homes Insider - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: An­nie Green-Army­tage

High sum­mer is upon us, and the fes­ti­val sea­son is in full swing. No, not mu­sic fes­ti­vals (although that’s true too) but gar­den fes­ti­vals. Chelsea Flower Show has al­ways gained most at­ten­tion with its high­bud­get gar­dens and un­ri­valled celebrity-spot­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties, but other fes­ti­vals have seen an up­surge in pop­u­lar­ity in re­cent years.

Hamp­ton Court Flower Show, like Chelsea, is run by the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety (RHS), but its fo­cus is dif­fer­ent, with an em­pha­sis on sea­sonal fruit and veg­gies as well as flow­ers, and a re­laxed day out in the green spa­ces of the park­land at the Palace. It takes place at the be­gin­ning of July so this month I am show­cas­ing a gallery of pic­tures re­flect­ing the flavour of this more laid-back, but just as en­joy­able, flower, plant and gar­den fes­ti­val.


The fes­ti­val sur­rounds the im­pres­sive and his­toric ‘Long Wa­ter’, a canal which forms the cen­tral av­enue and vista from the palace. It was con­structed in the 17th cen­tury by Charles II, in prepa­ra­tion for the ar­rival of his bride, Cather­ine of Bra­ganza. Ap­par­ently when they hon­ey­mooned at the palace, there were boats in the shape of swans sail­ing up and down the canal. No boats at the show, but there are bridges across the wa­ter at sev­eral points and a new fea­ture for 2018: a meadow of airy pur­ple Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis sweep­ing along it.

The show gar­dens are spread around the site, and these are brim-full of ideas to hi­jack for your own gar­den. Out­door liv­ing ideas range from comfy out­door set­tees to com­plete kitchens. You can learn how to make your gar­den more sus­tain­able too, with rain chains, green roofs and even re­cy­cled bike wheels as a see-through fence. For purely or­na­men­tal de­sign, check out hard land­scap­ing de­tails in the gar­dens or go straight to the horse’s mouth with a mul­ti­tude of ex­hibitors show­cas­ing their gar­den art and craft; or browse amongst stands of in­no­va­tive tools and ranges of brightly – some might say bizarrely – coloured wellies and gloves.


At Hamp­ton, it’s full-on sum­mer, and the plant pal­ette re­flects this with vi­brant hot colours from achil­lea and echi­nacea, and cool blues of aga­pan­thus, eryn­gium and echinops. These plants have stature as well as bril­liance: ar­chi­tec­tural shapes, con­trast­ing fo­liage, and bold flower forms. And as many crops come nat­u­rally to their har­vest time, you can also see scar­let chill­ies, pur­ple beet­root and rain­bow chard.

In the flo­ral mar­quee there will be more than 80 spe­cial­ist nurs­eries, in­clud­ing Na­tional Plant Col­lec­tion hold­ers from Plant Her­itage, who cel­e­brate their 40th an­niver­sary this year. One of the RHS themes this year even il­lus­trates a jour­ney through evo­lu­tion, from pre-his­toric jun­gles through flow­er­ing mead­ows, fos­sils and the de­vel­op­ment of seeds.


Fam­i­lies are made wel­come here, with a range of ideas on show for younger mem­bers. Past years have seen the win­ning en­tries from a pri­mary schools’ Rocket Science scare­crow com­pe­ti­tion, veg­gies grown in re­cy­cled baked bean tins, and home­made bug mo­tels. What’s more, up to two un­der-16s get into the show free with each pay­ing adult.

RHS Hamp­ton Court Palace Flower Show, at East Mole­sey, KT8 9AT, runs from July 3 to 8 (July 3-4 is mem­bers only), with a preview evening on July 2. Each pay­ing adult can bring two un­der­16s free of charge.

For ticket in­for­ma­tion see rhs.org.uk/show­sev­ents/rhs-hamp­ton-court-palace-flower-show and fol­low the links.

Lunch among the flow­ers. An idyl­lic set­ting for this im­pos­si­bly float­ing cedar ta­ble which is can­tilevered - no more knee-bash­ing on an in­con­ve­nient leg. The in­spired plant­ing in­cludes Aga­pan­thus ‘Sil­ver Moon’, Ver­bena mac­dou­galii, Per­ovskia atrip­li­ci­fo­lia and Deschamp­sia ce­spi­tosa. Be­hind the ta­ble are Hy­drangea ar­borescens ‘Annabelle’, Ammi ma­jus, An­gel­ica ‘Ebony’, white aga­pan­thus and Ferula com­mu­nis in the cor­ner. Ves­tra Wealth’s Vista, de­signed by Paul Martin

Achil­lea mille­folium ‘Red Vel­vet’ with Stipa tenuis­sima cre­ate a per­fect con­trast in this nat­u­ral­is­tic plant­ing in one of the Gar­dens of the USA, de­signed by Sadie May Stow­ell An un­usual white echi­nacea, E. ‘White Spi­der with Eryn­gium ‘Jos Ei­jk­ing’ in a cooler plant­ing com­bi­na­tion. De­signed by Jeni Cairns and So­phie An­tonelli as part of the Space to Con­nect and Grow gar­den

Fruit and veg­eta­bles are an im­por­tant part of the Show: here scar­let chill­ies are trained up a bam­boo cane wig­wam Cool blue Aga­pan­thus with Ver­benabonar­ien­sis in the NSPCC Legacy Gar­den, de­signed by Wol­cott and Smith

Yel­low Ere­mu­rus (fox-tail lily) con­trasts with Aga­pan­thus ‘Back in Black’, Agas­tache ‘Blue For­tune’ and Stipa tenuis­sima in the Space to Con­nect and Grow gar­den. De­signed by Jeni Cairns and So­phie An­tonelli

Plenty of veg­gies are in­cluded at Hamp­ton; this small con­tainer­ised gar­den has wooden raised beds for ease of main­te­nance. Veg­eta­bles in­clude Chard ‘Bright Lights’, Tomato ‘Santa’, car­rots, cour­gettes, beans, let­tuce. Gar­den of Re­gen­er­a­tion, de­signed by Philippa Pear­son.

This in­spired plant­ing in­cludes wa­terlov­ing marginals Hosta ‘Halcyon’,Per­si­caria mi­cro­cephala ‘Red Dragon’, and creep­ing jenny (Lysi­machia num­mu­la­ria), within the wa­ter fea­ture Ja­panese blood­grass (Im­per­ata cylin­drica ‘Rubra’) and Agas­tache, in the gravel scree be­neath.

White mar­ble-look paving con­trasts the bril­liantly coloured plant­ing in this idea for a shel­tered city gar­den. The plants in­clude drought re­sis­tant choices such as Eryn­gium × zabelii ‘Nep­tune’s Gold,Ophio­pogon planis­ca­pus ‘Ni­grescens’, and Geum ‘Fire Opal’. De­signed by Beau­ti­ful Bor­ders Gar­den De­sign.

A bug ho­tel formed a fo­cal point in the Growing to Eat, Eat­ing to Grow Gar­den, de­signed by Al­ton In­fant School. Cre­ated with a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing cut-up bam­boo canes, straw, fir cones and seed­heads, it is sur­rounded by run­ner beans growing in baked bean tins re­cy­cled from the school kitchen.

A hes­sian hedge­hog with chives for spikes formed part of the Hedge­hog Street gar­den, de­signed by Tracy Fos­ter for the Peo­ple’s Trust for En­dan­gered Species. This gar­den was rais­ing aware­ness around the dra­matic de­cline in hedge­hog num­bers. Re­search un­der­taken by the Trust shows that the hedge­hog pop­u­la­tion has de­creased by around a third since the mil­len­nium

En­tries in the Rocket Science Scare­crow Com­pe­ti­tion in­cluded Abbey’s As­traw­naut by Abbey Pri­mary School and Atomer the Tomato Alien by John Ruskin Pri­mary School.

The Sil­ver Space Scare­crow was one of the en­tries in the 2016 Rocket Science Scare­crow Com­pe­ti­tion. With laven­der for hair, nat­u­rally

Growing to Eat, Eat­ing to Grow, was the theme of this tiny con­tainer­ised gar­den cre­ated by the chil­dren of Al­ton In­fant School in 2016. It fea­tured veg­eta­bles, herbs and edi­ble flow­ers, in­clud­ing pot marigolds (Cal­en­dula) and nas­tur­tiums. Veg­gies in­cluded pur­ple-pod­ded French beans, run­ner beans in baked bean tins re­cy­cled from the school kitchen, and salad leaves and African blue basil (Oci­mum kil­i­mand­schar­icum)

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