Sensation and perception
The Conceptual Gardens were more evocative than ever. This year five gardens had the theme of Sensations with designers asked to create immersive and interactive installations. There was also a sixth garden, which was a wildcard garden based on a concept from outside the scope of the theme. Gabrielle Evans brought a piece of Africa to Hampton Court, with her thought-provoking African Vision: Malawi Garden, inspired by the charity's first-hand experience of seeing the devastation of the natural landscape caused by monocropping and chemical fertilisers. John Humphreys and Andy Hyde’s Equilibrium represented the balance between the opposing forces of sun, moon and sea and their effect on the shingle beach.
Finally, the sculptural gun at the entrance of Simon Webster’s wildcard garden, Ready… Aim… Flower!, was the start of a peaceful yet slightly uneasy-to-walk-through garden, giving the impression that something is 'not quite right', whether it be something underfoot, or a reminder that although these plants 'thrive' regardless of the environment, some things shouldn't be taken for granted.
Show Garden inspiration
In the Show Garden section, Bethany Williams and Stuart Charles Towner’s Hadlow College: Green Seam garden was inspired by Betteshanger Colliery's heritage and regeneration, with vivid greens, pinks and whites contrasting with the dark solidity of the colliery landscape. Returning to the show, Tracy Foster created a loved and lived in garden for Just Retirement: A Garden for Every Retiree, while Stefano Passerotti’s (also returning from Italy) SABO: The Circle of Life created a very contemplative atmosphere, with a suggestion to live life with an open mind.
The Macmillan Legacy Garden by Ann-Marie Powell was designed as a community space which could be attached to a Macmillan Care centre. Ian Hammond’s Squires Garden Centre: Town Garden celebrated Squire's Garden Centres' 25th year at the show and used readily available, reasonably priced summer plants that are proven to do well. Catherine Chenery and Barbara Harfleet’s garden Unique: The Rare Chromosome Disorder Garden aimed to raise awareness of rare chromosome disorders and support group, and Scotty's Little Soldiers Garden by Graeme Thirde conveyed the charity's positive impact on children who are trying to deal with the grief of losing a parent.
Paul Martin returned designing a Show Garden for Vestra Wealth. It invited visitors to go on a journey into a beautiful landscape inspired by the brand. Encore – A Music Lover's Garden had a mini amphitheatre made of sandstone blocks where one could sit, listen to and enjoy great music. John Warland also returned designing The World Vision Garden, with translucent orange rods representing rice paddy fields, and dark water cutting through, illustrating the fear of hunger that vulnerable children in Cambodia live with.
For the The Henri Le Worm: Community Garden, Chris Collins and Oli Blanc showed kids how much can be gained from going outside and connecting with nature, and the centre also had an outdoor kitchen. This garden educated, entertained and fired imaginations. Jacksons Fencing: Secret Garden Party by Jon Sims told an interactive story that was accessible to every show visitor about being able to express themselves in the garden.
A Growing Obsession designed by Wardrop and Stevenson was an elegant restored ladies' flower garden of refined formality and Victorian drama. It could be admired from the terrace and 'promenaded' through to appreciate the geometry and harmonious colours of the bedding. Passing the cooling fernery, the glasshouse enabled visitors to relax in exotic surroundings.
Up on the roof
The Summer Gardens displayed a variety of ideas, including a healing garden and a rice field. Rae Wilkinson designed the Living Landscapes: Healing Urban Garden (HUG), which highlighted the importance of space for retreat in an urban setting and how well a garden can provide this.
Designed as a demonstration garden for an educational organisation, VaRa Garden Design’s Foundations for Growth, sponsored by Provender Nurseries and Capel Manor College, had spaces for students to be inspired, to learn, to reflect and to plan their future path.
A little bit of history
Botanica World Discoveries: Winnie the Pooh begins his journey was a garden showing where A A Milne, in his woodland shelter, created the much-loved bear. The famous bridge where Winnie and Piglet play Poohsticks could be seen – this is a garden of childhood make believe and adult creativity. There was an Arts and Crafts feel to this country garden – a writer's retreat and a child's place to use his imagination.
Continuing the children's literary theme was The Tea Party by Charlie Bloom. The garden celebrated the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's masterpiece, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and was an opulent scene of controlled structure and floral chaos. A celebration of colour, texture and shape, but above all the Great British love of a tea party in all its eccentric glory. The Amnesty International Magna Carta 800 Garden celebrated the history of human rights to mark 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta. A standard tree at the heart of the garden represented the Ankerwycke Yew, under which the Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede in 1215. The patronage and participation of Amnesty International was emphasised by the colour scheme which is predominantly the organisation’s iconic yellow, denoting its mantra that ‘it is better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness’.