It’s been four years since I last visited the Hampton Court Flower Show but as I walked across the bridge over the Long Water Canal, admiring the dramatic backdrop of the Tudor Palace, it felt great to be back.
What a fabulous show this year! I loved the avenue of plant nurseries (the Plant Village), each of which had created a mini show garden beside their selling stands. There were some gems to be found on every stand, and the mini gardens were superb. I especially liked the colourful garden created by our friends at Hayloft Plants as well as Warmenhoven, who grow those superb alliums sold on QVC by Mont Rose of Guernsey.
A little beyond the Plant Village, past some very tempting trade stands is the stunning Floral Marquee. When I last visited, the plants were exhibited in a series of marquees, but this enormous single tent is a joy, as you enter you can see everything, and it’s simply breath-taking.
The quality of the plants is especially astonishing considering the challenge of growing in super-hot temperatures over the past few weeks. One of my highlights was the Hampshire Carnivorous Plants exhibit which featured live plants amongst Lego models of flycatchers (including a rather snappy Venus fly Trap). Cook’s Garden Centres had a fabulous display of Hydrangeas amongst which was Hydrangea Koria, currently QVC’s Plant of the Month.
The quality of the show gardens has been rather variable at Hampton Court in previous years but this year there are some crackers including the ‘Best of both Worlds’, a garden for a couple with different tastes (traditional as well as contemporary). But my favourite was the extraordinary Dibond garden, a beautiful meadow garden enclosed within a huge mirrored rusted steel box. Pure fantasy but absolutely fabulous!
Close to the Village Green band stand (sadly no one was playing whilst I was there) is the Festival of Rose marquee which was much smaller than I remember from previous years but it was enchanting and the David Austin roses stand was a delight.
One of the reasons that I love the Hampton Court Show is that there’s something for everyone at the show including a fascinating Grow your own section where I was very taken with a new blight resistant beef-stake tomato called, rather appropriately, ‘Oh happy day’!
And I really admire everything the RHS are doing to encourage kids to get involved. I visited on Press Day and I was so pleased to see lots of school groups visiting, most of them making a beeline for the Scarecrow competition where local kids had created some amazing figures based on the clever theme ‘You are what you eat’.
It was a brilliant day out. Chelsea may be the most glamorous Flower Show, but Hampton Court has the heart. Do visit it if you can, it’s open until Sunday. But please don’t forgot your Ultrasun, it’s predicted to be a baking hot week!