London has two great flower shows: Chelsea in May (see 2008 Chelsea Review) and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July (see 2008 Hampton Court Review). I went to Hampton Court yesterday. It rained as I entered and rained as I left – but the sun appeared in between and it was a good day. My interest, of course, was the garden designs. The RHS Best in Show went to a very worthy design by Dorset Cereals for an Edible Playground. It was a good idea for an outdoor learning area, and well made, but it does not make a contribution to garden design as a fine art. The Gardenvisit.com Design Award for Hampton Court 2008 went to the Holiday Inn Green Room designed by Sarah Eberle. Elegant and well-made is scored highly for being just the kind of space we should be making for the city of tomorrow – instead of those wretched garden-centerey plots made by the UK housebuilders who have seen such a spectacular decline in their businesses over the last 12 months.
A focus on domestic gardens is the strength of the Hampton Court Show. Chelsea provides haute couture for gardeners – nice for window shopping but with garden designs on the expensive side of exorbitant. Hampton Court is more like Oxford Street. Designers learn from Chelsea and use the ideas for everyman. To make this policy more apparent, we recommend buying some special fencing for the Hampton Court, to replace the standard contractor’s wire. This would not be to keep people out, as at Glastonbury. It would be to draw people in and provide more context for the garden designs. The fencing designers should learn from Hollywood and make fences which look like English streets from both sides. Visitors would then queue at house doors and enter a garden world, filled with garden designs they can relate to. This is what Oxford Street stores use mannequins for. At present, the garden designs at Hampton Court float in a sea of tents.
We would also like to see a London Garden Summer Show, spread through the capital and lasting for the summer season ( See our note on the proposed Chelsea Fringe Flower and Garden Show).
I agree. The garden designs at Hampton Court are getting better. The garden I liked best was the The Traveller’s Garden, by Amanda Patton for The Society of Garden Designers. Strange that it did not get a Gold Medal, though the theme (Walter de la Mare’s poem The Listeners – “Is there anybody there?”) is kind-of odd for a garden design.
This year, I visited Hampton Court on the final Sunday and was disappointed. It was far more dominated by trade stands than in previous years and the last day was extremely busy so one could not easily see the show gardens. The Merrist Wood Infinity Garden was a remarkable exception to the general run of mediocracy. It was an object lesson in how to present a show garden, a simple idea (a small garden made big by mirrors) and extremely well carried out, by framing so that one shut out the surrounding world.
By the way I could not find a single stand for seeds. Now that would have been a trade stand I would have directly sought out. Currently I am on the search for sweet cultivated dandelion but suppose I will have to wait until my next trip to Truffaut’s in Paris.
Credit to Ivan Tucker the HND Garden Design graduate who designed the Merrist Wood infinity garden (i.e. mirror garden) which was titled Forest2 (i.e. forest squared). The use of Betula utilis jacquemontii “Doorenbos” was masterly because not only was it enclosed on three sides by mirrors but they gave a light and approximate ceiling so the theatre of the space was extraordinarily convincing.
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i think this show was amazing, and i got to spend time with my family. but the metal flooring has to go, my nan tripped over it, and is bandly hurt, she has a black eye and broken wrist, it’s verry dangerous, but it was a verry nice day, and lovelly gardens.