Those of you who have been to the show will remember that from Hampton Court Station is quite a long walk to the entrance of the show ground, so Olgi and I opted to save our strength for the arduous day ahead, and took the river ferry instead.
The first Flower show was in 1990, and was the brain child of a management consultant Adrian Boyd (along with a lovely chap called Aiden Day, who is rarely credited, and sadly is no longer with us so he can’t blow his own trumpet, so I will, because he was a friend of mine!) anyway, they had the idea of connecting Historic Royal Palaces and Network Southeast rail services in a joint venture because the organisations were both looking for ways of increasing revenue after having their funding cut. Special trains ran from Waterloo, and all the porters wore carnations in their hats.
The first year there were some 300,000 visitors, so can anyone guess how many there were in 2013? The answer may surprise you, ............... 154,000. (I’m only guessing here, but we are in the back end of a recession period, travel costs have risen, and back in 1990 I seem to remember it costing only about £7.00 entrance, whereas this year, tickets were £29.50, oh yeah, plus the cost of the airfare and hire car!!!) I can even remember a couple of years going on two consecutive days, but then, that was when it was only a three minute walk from my front door to the entrance of Hampton Court Palace.
It was not until 1993 that the RHS took over the show, and they have been running it ever since, and it is now the world’s largest flower show.
In 1990 the show covered 11 acres with 265 exhibitors, this year it covered 34 acres of Home Park, with over 600 exhibitors, it takes 21 days to construct, and 10 days to dismantle.
Last useless factoid, this year visitors were a 71% female, 29% male split, just shows us women love a good day out, as if we didn’t know that already!!!
A Cool Garden (Won Best Summer Garden Award) This garden is designed to form the courtyard for a new spa building within a large rural estate. Offering attractive views from the spa building, it provides a private and restful space for the family to enjoy.
Four Corners This design has been inspired by the ancient Persian-style garden layout; it is divided into four areas by rills and features a water fountain. Hard landscaping materials with a soft feel, such as Cotswold stone and wood, together with naturalistic planting, soften the geometric lines of the design to create a relaxed and contemplative atmosphere.
Valley Garden At the heart of a valley, two planted mounds rise from a central pool. A path cuts a geometric incision through the water into the heart of the garden. Incisions cut through the mounds to reveal the earth within, like archaeological openings, encouraging us to consider the nature of landscape. Bringing landscape to human scale, A Valley Garden takes inspiration from landform and the Japanese artificial hill garden.
Willow Pattern Willow Pattern tells an age-old story of unsuitable love; the wealthy Mandarin’s daughter elopes with a humble book keeper, escaping from her enclosed palace across a bridge over the water. The garden has been created as a place for a romantic dinner, and features include a pine tree, rocks, a small body of water with a bridge and overhung by a willow tree, and a tea house.
The Witches of Macbeth Taking inspiration from the witches in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, this garden is an imaginative depiction of the witches’ home.
Layers & Links This secluded, sociable space is designed to celebrate and mirror the diverse and dynamic cultural make-up of modern Britain. Linked across various levels, the surfaces and sculptures reflect different cultures, and the planting draws on horticultural influences from over the world.
Vestra Wealth's Jardin du Gourmet This contemporary garden features a sunken dining terrace with a floor of planked Irish limestone. The retaining walls around the terrace are all at seating height, for ease of access in order to pick the array of fresh herbs, salads, vegetables and fruit that grow under a canopy of fruit trees. At the back of the garden there is a fully functional kitchen for cooking delicious evening meals. At the opposite end, there is a fire pit with a mini water cascade that fills the watercress rill beneath it.
The One Shows Garden This family garden, designed by The One Show competition winner, and provides a view of a garden from a child’s perspective.
The garden is designed to be viewed from below, as though seen from the floor of a forest. The plants and sculptural features are large and towering, to make the viewer feel small and child-like again.
The Garden Pad The Garden Pad has been designed for a bachelor who enjoys the finer things in life and wants a contemporary space for relaxing and entertaining, both during the day and at night.
The Singing Tree This unusual garden, is designed for relaxation and meditation, and uses modern state of the art equipment via sensors and/or smartphone technology which generates soundscapes and colourscapes and the back wall screens, when people move around within the garden. At night the gardens comes alive with hidden lighting.
A Moveable Feast This edible garden has been inspired by the Army Wives and is designed to be transported wherever they get relocated, making use of inexpensive, colourful containers. The planting scheme features the ingredients needed for a feast, whilst a river of yellow planting symbolises the ribbon of hope used by military families when a loved one is away on duty.
Bugs In Boots Designed and built on a budget of £13,000, Bugs in Boots is an ecological space created with insects, birds and other wildlife in mind. It is designed to flood in heavy rainfall, allowing water to permeate slowly into the soil.
The Ecover Garden (left) The inspiration for The Ecover Garden is the fundamental principle that water is life. We depend upon our aquatic environments, but they are under threat from pollution, including waste plastic and toxic residues. The Ecover Garden is all about solutions and symbolises the numerous ways in which Ecover’s products are sustainable and can aid the recovery of our water systems.
The Native Shower The focal point of the design of the garden from New Zealand is the outdoor shower. When in use, the shower is transformed into a water feature. Excess water is channelled into a surrounding water system made from recycled glass bottles.
Ashes to Ashes There has been a great deal of worrying publicity about Ash dieback in the UK recently, but we can draw a parallel with Dutch elm disease to offer hope for the future. Just as some cultivars of elm have survived; it is possible that Ash dieback may not necessarily signal the complete demise of the species. This garden portrays an apocalyptic scene, but from the devastation a spiralling glade of new growth emerges. These are elm trees propagated from healthy, native UK stock – the trees are alive and well and represent the future.
There is no doubt that Ash dieback is pretty catastrophic; but then so was Dutch elm disease … it’s not necessarily the end of the story, though.
Tip of the Iceberg Inspiration came from Japanese gravel gardens and often seeing fridges dumped at the tip. Although the garden could be seen as just another ‘fridge mountain’, the design highlights the reality of our resource-constrained world and shows that something striking and beautiful can be created from the debris of modern life. Given a new lease of life as building blocks and planters, each fridge represents an alpine habitat, filled with blue and white flowers basking in their cool surroundings.
Falls the Shadow The inspiration for the garden is sight and the way in which we see. Although our eyes receive images, like a camera obscura, it is our brain that makes sense of these images and the world around us. The elements within the garden represent the seeing parts of the eye.
I disappear Inspired by the Metallica song I Disappear, this garden is designed to show that by producing our own crops, we can be self-supporting and also contribute to purifying the atmosphere. The garden draws attention to the continued loss of allotment land to development and building projects. A seated person breaths in the purified air created by plant photosynthesis.
The Claw The focus of this garden is a huge grass claw rising from the ground, scratching at the earth as if the world is self-harming. It has talons created from sculptural dry stone and its surface is covered in shaggy field grass. Where the claw tears through the ground, blood red flowers and plants seem to ooze from the earth, representing the destruction that nature can cause. The garden has been inspired by images of holidaymakers on beautiful beaches before the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 and the flash floods that swept through the peaceful Cornish village of Boscastle in the height of summer. Nature’s awesome power cannot be predicted or contained, and so you never really know when you will see the claw.
The Clints and Grykes Garden This garden was inspired by the quarrying of limestone pavements, where the shapes of grykes (fissures) and clints (slabs) are formed using concrete from more sustainable limestone aggregate. The flat, pale grey surface of the pavement hides its planting until you stand directly over it.
Spirit of the Land The designer is inspired by her Japanese culture. She believes that Shinto spirits exist in natural environments and that they should be respected, not thoughtlessly destroyed.
Celebrity Hen Houses.
These were designed by a range of celebrities, including Kate Humble, Sophie Conran, Deborah Meaden and Philippa Forrester.
After the show they were auctioned off for charity, with the proceeds going to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the Addington Fund, which supports British Farming.
Driftwood was another offering – absolutely delightful items made entirely of driftwood.
No-one will forget the pony!
As the name implies- they are heavily decorated, detached residences, with pointed roofs & raised on legs – perfect for the discerning Chicken in your life…..