Hampton Court Flower Show – Review

We had some glorious weather for the show this year. Keeping the plants looking good for 7 days must have been a struggle for the exhibitors
The showground had a completely new layout this year and we found ourselves getting quite disorientated. We had to refer to the show guide a number of times to ensure we didn’t miss a thing. The smaller gardens which this year are called Summer Gardens have been more centrally located and the plant selling nurseries are nearer to the main exit. No doubt they picked up additional trade as visitors exited the show; the temptation to buy and not to have to carry it around all day was surely too much for some.

hampton court flower show

Plenty to buy

There is plenty to see at the world’s largest flower show. We can break this up into 3 sections. Sundry stands which sell everything from garden furniture to wellington boots, the gardens, and the nurseries selling plants of all kinds.

For me the best of the show garden was Jardin du Gourmet. I like gardens that have a function and this one clearly did. No need to read the show guide to understand it. I like the clean lines and the easily identifiable areas like the large table to eat at and the sunken area with its fire pit for socialising late into the night. The outdoor kitchen was great but perhaps a bit over indulgent for the British climate. The garden clearly demonstrated that edibles can be grown amongst ornamentals to great effect.

Jardin du Gourmet

Jardin du Gourmet

New for 2013 was the category Low Cost High Impact. Mid Century Modern was certainly a high impact garden with its vibrant oranges and striking pod seats but how many people consider £15,000 as low budget. For me that was a disappointment. As a garden designer who specialises in small gardens and rarely has a budget over £8,000 I was really hoping for some great ideas.

Hampton Court Flower show

Mid Century Modern

A Room With a View again at a cool £15,000. I did hear the designer Mike Harvey say that the chairs alone £2,000 each, they were hand made for the show. He went on to say that the chairs were not included in the budget but is that really fair, would he have a achieved a gold medal with a couple of injection moulded white plastic chairs from B&Q I very much doubt it.

hampton court flower show

A Room With A View

It’s also worth me saying for the record, I don’t think £15,000 is an unreasonable amount to have to spend on a small garden. I am just not sure it qualifies for the title low cost. Small gardens are always disproportionally more expensive that larger spaces. Often every inch of space is either hard landscaped or planted, where as in a larger space a good proportion is often laid to lawn.

Concept gardens – I have mixed feelings about this category I am not one for reading the explanation in the guide. I like to appreciate the garden for what it is. If it needs explaining then for me it has failed but some of the conceptual gardens this year are very well executed. I was particularly taken with Desolation to Regeneration shown here. Walking through the intense heat of the reds and oranges onto the dark foliage and charred structures depicting the remains of a forest fire and then onto zingy greens of Euphorbia’s depicting new growth and regeneration this combined with the faint audio sound of crackling flames ( I might have chosen Lloyd Coles Forest Fire!) I thought it was both visually and audibly stimulating and supported the title excellently.

This garden should not to be confused with the garden called Ashes to Ashes which highlighted the effects of Ash die back disease and was equally well presented.

Desolation to Regeneration

Desolation to Regeneration


Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes

There is plenty more to see and experience at the show and this year I took an unexpected trip into the growing tastes marquee. I am not really into growing fruit and veg so it’ s not an area I usually waste time in but using the tent as a shortcut I discovered it was not full of granddads prize carrots but food, yes food that you can sample and very scrummy it was too. Lots of cheese, pickles and sauces. As well as this there is the country living marquee jam packed with all sorts of items to tempt the wallet such as bags, clothing, and jewellery.
So that’s it for another year unless you planning a trip to Tatton Park.
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