Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2011

by James Alexander-Sinclair

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is running this week and I have been lucky enough to get a quick preview prior to judging today.

Show garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2011, featuring grass hummocks and topiary chimneysHampton Court Palace Flower Show is running this week and I have been lucky enough to get a quick preview prior to judging today (Monday).

If you are short of time or a little confused by the whole thing (it is after all the largest flower show in the world) then this is my lightning guide to 10 highlights of the show.

1. The Conceptual Gardens. Unique to Hampton Court, these are gardens, usually designed by young designers, that explore ideas not usually found in conventional gardens. There is one comprising entirely of edible fungi: more interestingly all the action is underground and only visible through a series of periscopes.

2. Jon Wheatley and Anita Foy's vast show feature, the RHS Edible Garden. This includes fruit and nut orchards, wild plants for free foraging, a vegetable garden, an olive grove (a little optimistic) and even a hot house full of tropical fruit. For the thirsty there is a hop garden, a cider orchard and a vineyard.

3. Roses: none of the other RHS Shows have quite as many roses. Here can be found not only all the main rose nurseries but a rosy pavilion celebrating Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland, which is also the theme for the children's scarecrow competition.

4. The Thames. You can get to the show by boat, which is more than can be said for the NEC. 30 minutes from Kingston Station.

5. There are gardens inspired by six poets.

6. In a large blacked-out tent is the first night garden showing how to use lights in the garden. It is quite hot in there.

7. Next weekend there is lots of stuff going on for children including storytelling, rapping inspired by Lewis Carroll (presumably to the sound of various people turning rhythmically in their graves) and henna tattooing.

8. The remarkably tall Tony Smith has, at very short notice, made a garden of bosomy turf hummocks and smoking chimneys.

9. Tickets are still available either at the gate or online.

10. Enough, I think. Go and see for yourselves.

PS I am also now the newest (and I think possibly the youngest which makes a very nice change) member of the RHS Council. Thank you to all who voted for me and if you are not already a member of the RHS then you jolly well should be...

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Talkback: Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2011
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Gardeners' World Web User 04/07/2011 at 18:07

I bet no-one has thought to do a parasitic garden. I tend the Orobanche garden in the Bristol Botanic garden and find it so fascinating that I bore my friends by forever looking for broomrapes. They are as beautiful as orchids. A hemiparasitic garden could have the Indian paintbrush plant that grows all over the Rockies and the beautiful pedicularis species. Congratulations, James. I used to belong to the RHS but find the subscription a bit much nowadays - still read the mag. at the BG however. My garden and myself were profiled in it, many moons ago.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/07/2011 at 10:42

Congratulations James - so my vote must have counted! happymarion - I do like your idea of a parasitic garden. Perhaps you could persuade the BBG to participate in a show? Re your garden profile in The Garden - which edition? I regularly read your comments in these blogs & your garden sounds fascinating.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/07/2011 at 13:13

Chalkweed, I'll see if I can find out next week at the BBG. There was only one picture -of my clematis montana clambouring over my garage roof! The BBg puts on lots of demonstrations throughout the year in Bristol and of course we are open to the public. i came home early today as I am getting my own front garden ready for the Bristol in Bloom competition and givinga talk on alpines to the WI next week so needed to do my hand-outs for that. So glad you like my comments and I find my garden a great delight.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/07/2011 at 12:57

Well done from me too, James. Having been to HC on Tuesday i have to admit to being a little disillusioned.....it was ok but i felt like i had paid over £30 to go to a garden centre, the whole thing seemed to be about selling. Is it just me being cynical?

Gardeners' World Web User 09/07/2011 at 12:08

I have to agree with the above comment. I went yesterday after wanting to go for years and i was a bit disappointed too. Some of the gardens were interesting but other than that it was just shops. I actually enjoyed the bit of the Hampton Court Gardens the most. also the food was seriously overpriced, £2:00 for a small bottle of water - disappointing.

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