The RHS Grow Your Own Garden with The Raymond Blanc Gardening School was a show-stopping kitchen garden at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. It was designed to engage beginner gardeners who fear they don't have sufficient knowledge to cultivate fruit and veg. It also appealed to visitors who believe they don’t have enough space to grow food.
The 20 x 15m (65 x 50ft) rectangular garden showcased simple and fun growing techniques along with recipe cards – aimed at encouraging families to dabble at growing their own fresh ingredients.
Celebrity chef Raymond is renowned for the organic vegetable and herb gardens at his Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. The hotel and restaurant has held two Michelin stars since it opened in 1984.
The garden was designed by Allister Dempster, of garden design company Sandstone, based in East Sussex. He worked with planting designer and plantswoman Rossana Porta to bring the garden to life at Hampton Court.
Allister said: "There are plenty of ideas to take home, whether people live in a flat or only have a small back garden. Upcycled and recycled materials have been transformed into planters for edibles, with inspirational window box ideas on offer too. There's a focus on herbs for small spaces, compact fruit trees for tiny gardens and microgreens – to cater for people who only have a windowsill for growing edibles."
The kitchen garden also featured traditional crops such as runner beans, peas, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, broccoli, radishes and French beans. In line with the current trend for sustainable gardening, water storage solutions, composting facilities, companion planting ideas, plants for foraging and wildlife-friendly features were all highlighted.
Hear Allister Dempster and Rossana Porter in the RHS Gardening Podcast
The centrepiece of the garden was an oak-framed building where Raymond and the team from his Cookery and Garden School gave demonstrations. There was amphitheatre-style seating facilities and a small outdoor kitchen.
Encouraging children to eat healthily and start growing their own food is one of Raymond’s passions and was a key theme of the garden, with an outdoor classroom being featured to educate the next generation of budding gardeners.
Garden designer Allister Dempster said: “I am thoroughly excited. Raymond is inspiring to work with, and he has a perfect vegetable garden at Le Manoir.”
“Raymond is a real champion of fresh, local, seasonal food, and he is sharing his expert knowledge in the garden. Visitors can expect plenty of top tips on how to grow edibles at home, whether they have acres of garden or just a doorstep.”
Gemma Lake, RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Manager