Saturday, 11 August 2012

Hampton Court Flower Show

What seems like a lifetime ago, Sam and I went to Hampton Court Palace Flower show on 8 July. I have never been to a flower show before so I was pretty excited to find out what all the fuss was about (and empty my purse on all those must haves I was bound to find).
I did  work at the flower show a couple of times in my student days when I worked out of a sandwich van, so I had some idea of what it might look like but I had no idea of the size. I booked us full day tickets but after Sam's usual flapping about, we missed a good few hours and had to rush around a bit to see everything we wanted to.
We chose to buy tickets on the Sunday because we knew it would be the plant sell-off and therefore there might be some bargains to be had that fitted in with our next-to-nothing budget. After paying £10 (yes that's £10) to park the car, we trugded through the mud to get to the ground. It was not a good day to discover that my wellies have a leak - but luckily, despite the torrential rain of the morning, the sun came out to greet us as we arrived.
We wandered around the show gardens, surprised by how small they were compared to what they look like on tv, I particularly liked the This is Me garden by James Callicott. It was a garden about dyslexia but it somehow reminded me of the secret garden or the type of place you could imagine getting lost in and having adventures as a child. The other garden that particularly interested me was the urban garden designed sround the London riots last summer, to me it was about the way that beauty can grow out of the most disaterous or unfriendly environments. I particularly liked the bench made from double yellow lines which had lifted up from the road and curved around a tree.
I also like the use of wild flowers that you would often see in urban environments. However, although it was nice to waner around these gardens, they are often not really the kind of thing you could emulate in your own garden at home. I am also more keen on growing things that I can eat than just things to look at. This was one area I was slightly disappointed with at Hampton Court. There was an edible plants marquee but it was rather small with a lot of fruit tree/bush stalls and not much in the way of the unusual veg I like to hunt down. We did manage to get a kaffir lime plant - Sam loves cooking Thai and asian food so to have our own supply of freah kaffir lime leaves is pretty exciting - and hopefully money saving in the long run. I also managed to get so vegetables from one of the stands as they were clearing away and a couple of plants (tomatoes and chard) which have replaced some of my own plants that haven't done quite so well.
The floral marquee was really the place to be though, bright colours and heady scents were everywhere and every turn of the head provided us with something else to look at. Seeing plants at their best really does make me understand why some people prefer these forms to edible plants (I'm still firmly in the edible camp though!). I particularly liked the Waitrose stand which conbined fruit and vegetables with flowers to create stunning dispalys. We were able to pick up lots of plants at end end of the day during the sell off - dhalias from the national collection, alliums, lillies and roses from the displays as cutting flowers and lots of nursery plants from as little as 50p each. I think the best way to demonstrate the things we saw is for you to take a look at the pictures so here are some of the stunning plants we saw:


Topiary creatures

Lillies and a cottage garden display above

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