RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

4 - 9 Jul 2017

Gardens at Hampton Court 2015

With the Conceptual, Show and Summer categories joined by World and Historic Gardens, there was an eclectic mix of designs and themes to fill visitors with wonder

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.

TSLGRUPPO The Gallery of MirrorsTSLGRUPPO: The Gallery of Mirrors by Spin included a surreal man-made world in which seven splendid specimens of Indian fig (Opuntia) stood in front of a mirrored background wall which contrasted with a Mediterranean meadow outside. The SMART Vision Garden: Having the vision to see beyond mental illness by Steve Smith was designed to challenge the mainstream perceptions of mental illness, while Sarah Wilson’s DialAFlight: Synaesthesia Garden was inspired by the amazing results of the 'cross-wiring' in a synaesthete's brain.

Ready...Aim...Flower!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 GardenThe 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.

Henri Le Worm: Community GardenFor 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.

Turkish delight

Noble Caledonia: Spirit of the AegeanEsra Parr with Noble Caledonia brought the Spirit of the Aegean to the World Gardens, with an offering inspired by family summer holidays in Turkey. The Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture: Garden of Paradise by Nilufer Danis used water fountains and canals – commonly used in the early Islamic-Turkish gardens. Sadie May Stowell designed Great Garden of the USA: The Massachusetts Garden and Great Gardens of the USA: The Charleston Garden, both of which transported the essence and charm of their respective cities through tradition, history and planting.

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.

Living Landscapes: City TwitchersQEF: A Different Point of View was offered by Juliet Hutt, which was inspired by people with acquired brain injuries and the continuing need to look at the problems they face in new ways. The Wellbeing of Women Garden was a feminine, thoughtful and calm space, while CouCou Design's Living Landscapes: City Twitchers offered ideas for those wanting somewhere to sit and relax, grow their own edible plants, bird watch and encourage wildlife.

A little bit of history

Botanica World Discoveries: Winnie the Pooh begins his journeyBotanica 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’.

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