8th July to 13th July 2008: The Hampton Court Flower Show began c1990 as a more spacious and more relaxed version of the Chelsea Flower Show. Though in the grounds of royal palace, its character is more suburban than Chelsea. There is a lot more to buy and the gardens are closer to home gardens than the glitzy show gardens of Chelsea. Potentially, these are great. The weakness of Hampton Court historically has been the quality of the garden designs. Some of them are very good but there is still too much sentimental trash. The recent trend has been a sharp increase in quality year to year - so we look forward to see what 2009 brings.
Hampton Court's Conceptual Garden Section, now in its third year, remains a good idea but could do with some conceptual clarification! The show catalogue explains that 'The brief requires horticultural knowledge to be finely balanced with artistic license and an understanding of the principles of garden design'. To take the last point first, the six gardens in the section show little understanding of the principles of garden design. They are nearer to conceptual art - and this is not a skill one expects in people with horticultural knowledge. For next year, we modestly advise the judges and the competitors to read the Gardenvisit.com eBook on: The Principles of Garden Design. This year, we thought Forest2 garden, by Ivan Tucker was by far the best entry. Though not useful, it is beautiful, well made, and, because of the mirrors, of extraordinary large apparent extent.
The GardenVisit.com Design Award at Hampton Court 2008 goes to the Holiday Inn Green Room designed by Sarah Eberle. The runner up was the Homebase Room with a View, designed by Philippa Pearson.
|Holiday Inn Green Room earned Sarah Eberle another well deserved Gold medal. It has a clean elegance and a delightfully light character. The Green Room itself has an internal green wall, planted with edible herbs, and an internal pool with a glass cover. A liquid crystal wall can be switched to from clear to translucent. When clear, it looks onto a well composed outdoor room with an outdoor kitchen and comfortable furniture. We look forward to seeing it re-installed in a real Holiday Inn. The company has always had an appealing name. With accommodation like this, staying in a Holiday Inn would be a real holiday.|
|This garden was designed by Philippa Pearson and sponsored by Homebase. The designer makes a very hard-to-follow comparison with the Rievaulx Terraces, but she has made an attractive garden room with the excellent addition of a living roof terrace above. As Gardenvisit.com has often argued, every new building should have an extremely good excuse for not having a vegetated roof. We look forward to Homebase (a large DIY chain) supporting the idea with advice and products. The garden won a Silver medal.|
|Dorset Cereals Edible Playground was designed by Nick Williams-Ellis and won the Best in Show award. The garden is to promote a national compaign to encourage schools to create their own edible playgrounds - to produce food to eat and as an educational tool.|
|Convergence of the Elements, by Matthew Rideout (Art Outside)|
|Widex Hearing Garden, sponsored by hearing aid manufacturer Widex, is designed as a soundscape as well as a landscape. There is a central water feature and Listening Wall. It was designed by Selina Botham and won the Best Small Garden award.|
|Forest2 by Ivan Tucker creates the illusion of a forest in a small space using mirrors. The garden won a Gold medal but astonishingly lost out on the Best Conceptual Garden to Ecstasy in a Very Black Box.|
|Ecstasy in a Very Black Box, by Tony Smith, is intended as a visual representation of bipolar disorder.|