RHS Hampton 2017: roses, butterflies and melting ice

Roses, butterflies and how to garden in the face of climate change are just some of the features at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

There are nearly 100 specialist nurseries in the Floral Marquee – six of them, ranging from cacti to daylillies, new to the show – and there will be four new roses launched, including ‘Lovestruck’, the 2018 Rose of the Year.

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Rosa ‘Lovestruck’

Wildlife is a major theme and the popular Butterfly Dome will be surrounded by a wildflower meadow, with plants that provide food for butterflies and caterpillars.

Show Gardens

Naturally, top of my list of ‘must-sees’ is Cotswold designer Paul Hervey-Brookes’ garden for show sponsors Viking Cruises.

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Paul’s garden is inspired by travel

Just weeks after winning Best in Show at the new RHS Chatsworth, Paul is making his third appearance at RHS Hampton; he won gold and best in show in 2012 for ‘Discovering Jordan’ and gold last year with a garden for the Dogs Trust.

He’s creating a small, urban garden for a couple who have travelled widely and incorporated ideas from those journeys into their plot. These include a triple arched feature wall based on Rome’s Arch of Constantine, a large Malaysian pot and paving that has an arabesque pattern.

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The Manzano paving has an intricate pattern

The planting will also echo their travels with motherwort, found growing along the Danube, Italian alder and a species of mint from the Lebanon.

Herbs grown by Jekka McVicar will be woven into sweeping mixed borders in a white, yellow, mauve and blue colour scheme.

“Being influenced by travel is at the core of English gardens historically and this modern day interpretation is no different,” says Paul. “I hope people will see the various different influences and feel excited by that exchange of knowledge and ideas.”

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A willow vine sculpture will enclose the Blind Veterans UK garden

Other show gardens include Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer’s design for Blind Veterans UK, which explores the work of the charity and the sense of community it provides, represented by a willow vine sculpture that wraps around the garden.

Emma Bailey looks at dealing with depression in ‘On the Edge’ and the benefits of a sensory garden for children with autism is explored by Adam White and Andree Davies in the Zoflora Caudwell Children’s Wild Garden.

Designer Charlie Bloom is celebrating the people within horticulture with a garden built on co-operation and gifts.

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The Colour Box garden is being built with donated products and help

‘Colour Box’ is being built with no financial sponsor, relying instead on donations of time and products from the horticulture industry following a social media appeal.

“I wanted to create something that credited ‘the team’ and not the designer or the sponsor’s wants,” explains Charlie. “I asked the different trades involved to be an equal part of the process and given appropriate credit, not forgotten sub categories.”

Bold, bright planting and limited hard landscaping are the key features of a garden that Charlie describes as “a celebration of people helping people”.

Tackling climate change

‘Gardens for a Changing World’ is a new category for 2017, designed to show how gardening is becoming more sustainable in response to changing weather.

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Will Williams’ garden uses natural flood prevention measures

Among the entries are a natural solution to flood prevention by designer Will Williams using trees and leaky dams and another by debut RHS designer Rhiannon Williams showing how to manage rainwater in a garden with storage systems and planting.

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Managing rainwater in a garden

Perhaps the most unusual will be ‘The Power to Make a Difference’ by Joe Francis, which will have an ice block at the centre. The ice is intended to melt during the show, filling a pool below.

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There’s ice at the heart of Joe Francis’ design

Tom Massey has interpreted the title as “finding sanctuary in a storm” in his garden for Perennial.

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The Perennial garden

The charity provides support for people in the horticulture industry who are facing difficulties and the garden shows movement from chaos to sanctuary with the planting colours from reds and orange through to blues and greens echoing the journey.

I will be heading for Martyn Wilson’s design ‘Brownfield – Metamorphosis’. Worcester-based Martyn made his show garden debut at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in 2014, having studied at the Cotswold Gardening School, and designs gardens for private clients across the Cotswolds.

Inspired by post-industrial gardens, such as New York’s High Line, his garden looks at what happens when a former industrial site is reclaimed by nature.

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Martyn Wilson’s design

“What interested me initially was the changing nature of urban landscapes which are so often are in state of flux,” says Martyn. “There’s the process of demolition and reconstruction but between the two, before building work starts, you often find nature moves back in and a new, temporary landscape is created. “

Twisted steel monolithic structures suggesting decaying industry will be set against a mix of plants, including many that naturally self-seed on brownfield sites, such as ferns and grasses.

Conceptual Gardens

There’s also Cotswold interest in the category that sees designers push the boundaries of what constitutes a garden.

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens have joined forces with wildlife charity Tusk to sponsor a conceptual garden that aims to highlight the illegal trade in ivory.

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Mark Whyte is putting the spotlight on the plight of elephants

Designed by Mark Whyte, it will feature an arch of 200 tusks – the average daily tally of elephants killed by poachers in Africa.

Visitors will walk through the arch to the sounds of the African savannah, there will be African-style planting, and the bones of an elephant at one end will symbolise the risk to the elephant population.

Finally, the World Gardens will take visitors to Oregon, Northern Spain, Charleston and Florida.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from July 4-9, 2017. For more details, see the RHS website.

Hampton Court reflections

If Chelsea is the grown-up, sophisticate when it comes to flower shows then RHS Hampton Court Palace is definitely the fun-loving younger sister.

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Dogs both real and sculpted stole the show on Paul Hervey-Brookes’ garden

The atmosphere is more relaxed: there are fewer celebs, last minute preparations and even parties of schoolchildren being shown around on press day.

The show gardens more accessible both in terms of design – these are gardens you can imagine making –  and literally, thanks to Hampton’s generous site size compared with the space restrictions at Chelsea.

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The Squire’s 80th Anniversary garden would be easy to achieve
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Simple colours and design make the Inner City Grace garden easy to copy

And when it comes to making you stop and think this year’s Hampton has the edge for me.

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Abandoned lifejackets on the Border Control garden are an unsettling reminder of the fate of many refugees

Aside from Paul Hervey-Brookes’ gold medal-winning design that drew universal admiration – and not just for the very cute dogs from The Dogs Trust that kept visiting – there were several other gardens that caught my eye.

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The Dogs Trust garden won gold
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One of the many dogs on Paul Hervey-Brookes’ garden

I loved the simplicity of idea and execution of the World Vision garden. Undulating ribbons of green represent the difficult lives of children caught up in war or disaster-hit countries while the delicate wild meadow planting underneath gave a glimpse of hope.

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The World Vision Garden was a favourite

The Cancer Research UK Life Garden takes garden design right into the 21st century with a virtual garden for visitors alongside the more traditional planting of echinacea, hemerocallis and alliums.

Don the special headset and you are transported into a bigger version of this garden, as I discovered, complete with birdsong and the sound of bees. Each of the 100,000 flowers pictured represents one of the legacies that have helped the charity.

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Visitors will be able to book a virtual tour of the Cancer Research UK garden

It was a novel twist on the usual garden experience and great fun – apart from the sensation of being high up above a sunken area, as I discovered when I ‘looked’ down. Not great when you don’t do heights.

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I loved the colours of The Drought Garden

My favourite among the smaller gardens, was the Drought Garden, which won the well-deserved Best in Show for this category.

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A beehive was just one of the wildlife friendly features

It was a clever mix of drought tolerant planting and wildlife friendly features, such as a bee hive, and well within the capabilities and budget of the average gardener; designer Steve Dimmock used reclaimed stone and old pebbles for the hard landscaping.

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Herbs around a bench on the Witan garden

Other easily copied ideas included a herb-enclosed seat in the Witan Investment Trust Global Growth Garden, which also featured colourful vegetables among the planting. Who says borders can’t be productive as well as pretty.

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Veg added colour to the borders

And the Wildfowl and Wetland Garden showed how simply using the run-off from our homes could help stop flooding and provide an attractive wildlife friendly element to our gardens.

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The WWT garden won a Best in Show award

Here are some other things I liked.

There was plenty of colour.

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Dahlias on Pheasant Acre Plants’ stand
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Orchids from Dave Parkinson Plants added some zing

Some of the gardens were also very colourful.

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The New Horizons garden was inspired by Art Nouveau designs

The Rose Festival is always a highlight.

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The scent of roses filled the marquee

‘Scent from Heaven’ was announced as the 2016 Rose of the Year.

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Peter Beales Roses’ stand had a ruin at its centre.

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There were also some lovely clematis. On their own . . .

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. . . or mixed with roses.

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This penstemon ‘Craigieburn Taffeta’ from Green Jjam Nurseries caught my eye.

hampton courtVehicles were a popular addition to displays.

hampton courtHere, a Fiat 500 was used on Italian seed firm Franchi’s display.

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There was water in a lot of gardens.

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The Viking Cruises Scandinavian Garden
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A floating display of blooms
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Reflections in the Dogs Trust garden

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show highlights

Gardens galore

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show has more gardens than any other RHS show this year with more than 40 in contests ranging from the big show gardens to cutting edge conceptual gardens.

Among the Show Gardens are a design by Bath-based Emma Bannister, working with Ben Donadel, to raise awareness of premenstrual syndrome, which affects around 30 per cent of women. It is designed to reflect the mood swings of PMT and has a centre of corkscrew hazel set into Bowles golden grass.

In Cancer Research UK’s Life Garden, visitors will be able to put on a headset to experience a ‘virtual reality’ garden with more than 10,000 flowers representing those who have left the charity a bequest.

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The Cancer Research UK garden includes a virtual reality element

Floating waves of turf will represent the unpredictable lives of children in poverty and disaster-hit countries, such as Sierra Leone, in a garden by John Warland for World Vision. The turf ribbons run through an ox-eye daisy meadow that symbolises hope and the support of World Vision’s community projects.

Summer Gardens will include celebrations of the Arts and Crafts movement in A Summer Retreat, which champions simplicity and craftsmanship; the work of cancer support charity Katie’s Lymphoedema Fund with a cut flower garden; and the 60th anniversary of housing and care charity The Abbeyfield Society in a garden designed for a care home.

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A cut flower garden highlights the work of Katie’s Lymphoedema Fund

A design by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer is raising awareness of Crohn’s Disease and the research that is being carried out. Described as a contemporary plant-lover’s garden, it will feature tree ferns and unusual exotics.

Water Gardens return to RHS Hampton Court after an eight-year break. The wild beauty of Scandinavia has inspired a design by Stephen Hall with a pebble beach and wildflowers, while Jeni Cairns is creating a garden for the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust that shows how using water runoff from buildings in water features and mini wetlands can enhance a garden and help wildlife.

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The Perennial ‘Immerse’ garden

First time show garden designer Cherry Carmen is creating a garden to celebrate the work of gardeners’ charity Perennial. Cherry, who has just had treatment for cancer, has designed a garden with cascading water walls and plane trees trained to form a parasol.

The 10th year of Conceptual Gardens includes Sheena Seeks’ group of five greenhouses, filled with air, water, soil, plants and sand that illustrate the needs of plants and the dangers of the greenhouse effect. Amanda Miller explores living with depression in Inner Demons and Wormhole, by John Humphreys and Andy Hyde is inspired by theories of time and space. Border Control by Tom Massey and John Ward will highlight the plight of refugees and the risks they take to reach safety.

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Greenhouses will highlight the threat of global warming

New this year are City Gardens, designed to showcase ideas for small spaces. New Horizons features drought resistant planting and an Art Nouveau-inspired pergola and stained glass windows.

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The New Horizons garden features colourful stained glass

The Drought Garden marks the 40th anniversary of England’s 1976 drought with a dried river bed as a central feature, and Will Williams celebrates the landscape of Sussex in a garden for Streetscape, which provides landscape gardening apprenticeships. Will, aged 20, is the youngest designer at RHS Hampton Court.

Also new this year are the Capability Brown Gardens, which celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landscape architect’s birth. Capable of Reinvention is inspired by his use of reflection in lakes, Mind the Gap gives a modern take on the ha-has he used in many designs and Reflecting the Landscape uses serpentine landforms in a contemporary homage.

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Reflecting The Landscape uses serpentine landforms

Visitors will be transported to America with World Gardens that will roam across the USA taking in Austin in Texas, Charleston and Oregon.

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The Oregon Garden

There will also be a design inspired by the Incas and another that follows the journey of pilgrims on the camellia-lined route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

In addition to the professional designers, the amateur winners of the RHS and BBC Feel Good Front Garden contest will be building their entries at RHS Hampton Court.

SS Great Britain and the Victorian era are the inspiration for BBC Bristol’s winner, Simon Judge. Sarah Morgan, the Kent winner, features a beachscape; BBC Cornwall’s entry, by four designers on Eden Project Learning courses, is a place of relaxation for an office worker; and Lee Burkhill, winner of the BBC Manchester contest, is designing a space for neighbours to meet and chat over a cup of tea.

Other highlights

Butterflies return to RHS Hampton Court for the first time since 2013. Thousands will be housed in a dome with around 30 different species represented.

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The butterfly dome will have thousands of butterflies

Plant Heritage will celebrate National Collections with exhibits of iris, including Bliss iris from Cotswold grower Anne Milner, echiums, and Hakonechloa macra.

Also at the show will be the popular Festival of Roses marquee with this year’s design inspired by Beatrix Potter’s garden at Hill Top, marking the 150th anniversary of her birth. The Rose of the Year will be announced at the show.

There will be 62 scarecrows entered in the annual scarecrow contest; this year the theme is space.

Finally, one of the most eye-catching displays is likely to be from Franchi Seeds who are bringing in three classic Fiat 500s for their Cook and Grow exhibit.

They will be surrounded by olive trees and Italian vegetable varieties grown from the Franchi range with a market scene backdrop.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from July 5-10. Tickets are available from http://www.rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourt

Find out what Cotswold designer Paul Hervey-Brookes has planned for the show here

Main picture © RHS.

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Paul takes RHS Hampton Court challenge

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will see Cotswold designer Paul Hervey-Brookes challenging the idea that dogs and gardens don’t mix and that the colour yellow is difficult.

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 Designing for man’s best friend

He may be known for beautiful planting schemes but when I call into Allomorphic, his Stroud shop, designer Paul Hervey-Brookes wants to talk about origami. Not the paper kind but metal carefully folded to create dogs. They are going to feature on his garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and he’s justifiably proud of them.

“They’re made of powder-coated metal to look like origami and I’ve had them made to my design,” he says, adding with a glint in his eye that the dogs will be in a number of lifelike poses.

It’s just one element of the garden for The Dogs’ Trust that Paul hopes will challenge not only the idea of what makes a classic English garden but also assumptions about the sort of spaces he designs.

“I thought it would be very nice to make a garden that is contemporary English because the last two show gardens I’ve made in the UK have been traditional,” he explains.

“I want to show people the kind of garden I’m making abroad.”

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Paul has designed the origami dogs

These foreign designs have included both private and show commissions in America and France over the past 12 months.

So while the garden will have his trademark plant-heavy mainly herbaceous borders, there’s a modern edge with a metal pavilion and curved granite seat.

“It feels slightly more masculine and a little bit more edgy.”

It’s Paul’s second visit to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – he won gold and came top in the World of Gardens category for the ‘Discover Jordan’ garden in 2012.

The garden will celebrate the charity’s 125th anniversary and has been designed with dog owners and their pets in mind; Paul and his partner Yann have three dogs.

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Paul’s 2012 gold medal-winning garden ‘Discover Jordan’

Making the design dog friendly has presented some challenges, not least when it came to choosing plants as many are poisonous to dogs, including bergenia, foxgloves and yew.

“It’s been a challenge,” admits Paul, “but it makes you re-evaluate the plants you are using. You can’t just rely on your three favourite plants.”

Then the colour is not the more commonly seen pastels but a blend of blue and iridescent yellow; both colours that dogs are believed to see most clearly and the charity’s colours.

Yellow, I suggest, is often viewed as a difficult colour to use.

“I did a big planting scheme in Philadelphia of golden yellow and aubergine colours. It just looked amazing. So many people said ‘I don’t really like yellow but I really like this.’”

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What is well within his comfort zone is the scale: the deep herbaceous borders will have just over 3,000 plants.

“True to my character, it will have a lot of plants, a lot of varieties,” he smiles.

Bringing blue tones will be agastache, agapanthus, nepeta, and salvia, while yellow comes from anthemis, cosmos, kniphofia, and Cephalaria gigantea.

Ammi, calamagrostis, green fennel and mint will give the planting a loose, relaxed feel and there is height with a grove of birch and in the centre of the garden, three Acer saccharinum, which have distinctive trifoliate leaves.

“Most people don’t realise it’s an acer.”

The garden follows a dog’s journey from first being taken in by the charity to finding a new home; the Trust prides itself on never putting down a healthy animal.

More dog sculptures, this time made from wire by artist Paul Tavernor, are in a long canal of water.

“It symbolises a dog who has just come into the home. Everything feels quite bare, empty and abandoned.

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It will be Paul’s second Hampton Court show garden

The journey to a new owner is through the herbaceous planting with the origami dogs on ‘sniffer’ tracks through the border with a rill and metal water spouts from a rendered wall giving them somewhere to drink.

Finally, the dog and its new owner meet for the first time in the round pavilion, which provides a safe, controlled environment; the pavilion is going to be re-sited after the show at a Dogs Trust centre.

Yet, despite all the dog elements, Paul is hoping the garden will appeal to both dog owners and those without pets.

“A show garden should inspire. You should come away and re-evaluate your own garden with a fresh pair of eyes.”

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show runs from 5-10 July. Tickets are available at http://www.rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourt

For an overview of the show see here here

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