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.
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: