New designers tackle Resilience in the Pocket Planting

Aphrodite’s Garden
As part of the RHS’ commitment to encouraging fresh talent from different backgrounds into a career in horticulture, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival is inviting budding designers to take their first steps in a judged category at this year’s show.

One of the highlights of RHS Hampton Park 2023 was Pocket Planting, which saw nine designers get the opportunity to create a bed on a sensory theme.

See the 2023 Sensory Pocket Planting 

Inspiring resilience

Touching the Senses Garden at RHS Hampton Court 2023
For 2024 Pocket Planting is a back, but with a few differences. While the Pockets will still be located outside the Floral Marquee, this time they’ll be the same size – with three different shapes for designers to choose from. This year the theme for the Pockets is Resilience, which entrants are invited to interpret in their own way.

“We want entrants to use the resilience theme as a jumping-off point”

“Last year’s Sensory Pockets showed us how imaginative our designers could be,” says Show Manager Natalie Gearing, “We had sculptures, art and water features weaving in among the planting, as every design told a different story. No two pockets were alike as they each had a personality of its own. In that spirit, we want entrants to use the resilience theme as a jumping-off point and see where their imaginations take them.”


Designer mentoring

RHS Resilient Garden at RHS Hampton Court 2023
The Pocket designers are mentored by Gold medal-winning designer Tom Massey. His 2023 RHS Hampton Court garden The RHS Resilient Garden, and corresponding book, explored the future of sustainable garden design. It’s an area Tom is passionate about and he is looking forward to the challenge.

Tom MasseyTom says, “As the climate changes, designing gardens and planting schemes that are resilient and adaptable is incredibly important to ensure our gardens are sustainable and long lasting. I’m excited to see the responses to the brief, I am sure we will see many creative and exciting examples of ‘resilient’ planting design.”

The Pocket Planting category is also supported by Hortus Loci, a peat-free nursery, who grow 80% of their plants and always prioritise UK-grown. They will be hosting unique away day for the designers at their nursery where, under Tom’s guidance, they’ll learn all about sourcing plants for their show design. Alongside this practical support is a RHS grant to help with costs.

“It’s a great way to get show experience with the added bonus of an RHS grant to help towards costs. Invaluable expert support and advice from Hortus Loci too, who have many years of experience and expertise growing for RHS shows.”

– Tom Massey 

For the first time, the Pocket Planting category will be judged, and be included in the People’s Choice vote. Not only will the entrants have the opportunity of receiving a coveted RHS medal, they will also get the unique benefit of invaluable advice and feedback from the RHS Judges.

Experience of a past Pocket designer

Shapes of Blue
Last year’s Shapes of Blue Sensory Pocket designer Camilla Flint says taking part gave her insight into her own creativity as well as a boost to her burgeoning career.

Camilla Flint“The whole process was a magical challenge that resulted in excellent engagement with visitors, planting peers, – nursery men and women,” says Camilla, “It’s benefitted my work tremendously, allowing me to see growth in directions that I hadn’t previously considered when I started out with plants, design and gardens. 
“It’s an excellent way to initiate a burgeoning career with plants, design or horticulture – depending on your interests, within the industry whilst having a the support of the RHS to guide you.”
Camilla’s top tips:

  • Always remain open minded throughout each part of the process.
  • Ask questions when you’re uncertain.
  • Be efficient with the organisational side and schedules – provide yourself with grace with the actual planting process to enjoy it and during show week.
  • Enjoy the conversations with people that your planting generates and take pride in your final Pocket. 

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.