Despite what the weathermen would have you believe, we are now approaching the cusp of middle summer and the beginning of July has a different significance wherever you go – in the United States for example, it means the approach of Independence Day and a sky full of light and the first Sunday of the month is internationally renowned as ‘Make a Scarecrow Day’.
Here in England however, and more specifically in green fingered circles, we have our own commemoration of midsummer, and it is the ‘Hampton Court Flower Show’.
There is a new competitive category this year, simply titled ‘Low Cost, High Impact’, which as its name suggests, is built on the foundation of practicality, both in financial terms and the use one could derive from the space.
In the case of ‘Our first home, Our first garden’, one of the major creative counters to the problem of budget which, in proportion to the scope and prestige of the show in which it is to be featured and standing at only £7,000, is a challenge to say the least. As such, the garden’s designer Nilufer Danis of Landform Consultants, has employed primarily recycled and reclaimed materials in the actual construction side of the garden with the majority of the budget being allocated to the planting. However, even the plants are taking a (pun intended) leaf from the spendthrift’s book – Danis has established a colour of fresh blues and bright, vibrant yellows using a combination of cheap, low maintenance perennials and compact shrubs, appropriate to the garden’s size and shape.
As the project’s title would suggest, the space is designed for young couples who’re likely living in an urban environment and together for the first time and because of this, the space is designed equally for both entertainment and relaxation, as the centre of its seating area is adorned by an open chiminea.
In the same category, there is also the ‘Live Outdoors’ piece – the product of show garden veteran designer Roger Smith – which is centred around the concept of al fresco dining and outdoor cooking. A fern rich pathway leads to a raised seating area which itself is erected under the cover of a densely planted pergola and with a living wall at its back. The colour scheme of Smith’s offering is markedly more regal than Danis’, incorporating deep purple Heucheras to offset the golden Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’.
However, the major change to this year’s Hampton Court is the introduction of the Grapevine Theatre, an interactive platform of sorts from which various gardening and wild life personalities will deliver seminars, speeches and answer general queries as to their own motivations within horticulture, and what advice they can lend from their experience. You can expect to find one celebrity per day onstage and these include personalities such as Bill Oddie and Toby Buckland.
There will also be plenty of other interesting distractions, of course all the other show gardens, and, as always, Hampton Court is promising to be child-friendly with under 16’s being granted free admission.
By Josh Ellison