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Hampton Court: The Review

picture of Hampton Court Flower Show

Following on from our preview of this year’s flower show at Hampton Court Palace, we have kept an ear to the grindstone during the event last week and feel we are now ready to adequately report on the goings on at Hampton Court, including the winners of the show and those that most immediately peaked our attention.

picture of 'Our First Home' garden

So to begin proceedings, I’d like to revert to an aforementioned project from this years ‘Low cost, High Impact’ category that we gave some bearing to in our preview of the flower show. ‘Our First Home’ this year went home with the gold medal for its criteria and judges noted the innovative use of differing heights to evoke the illusion of space and also the allocation of specific tasks to specific areas of the garden, especially given its meagre budget of £7,000.

picture of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' garden

Now to discuss the ‘Best in Show’ garden, whose prestige is obviously somewhat more pronounced than their category-specific counterparts. This year’s winner was one designed around, and in reaction to, the themes of adversity inherent to those who suffer from OAB (Over Active Bladder Syndrome). The garden in question was aptly named ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and its elements were selected to represent the various symptoms of the affliction and the means by which they can be overcome, for example the gardens centrepiece – a large whirlpool – is fairly indicative of the act of relief itself from these symptoms and also of the unpredictability for which their occurrence is known. Using this pool as the inanimate villain of the garden, a tree line is employed to encourage the eyes to look upward from the mire – for such a depth can arouse feelings of despair and isolation – and across the titular bridge and, more figuratively, the promise of freedom.

picture of 'Light at the End of the Tunnel' garden

Finally, let’s devote some words to the conceptual designs of this year’s show as I personally found these to be the among the most interesting projects at this year’s Hampton Court – even if the in-house judges disagreed with me. This year one of the leading themes has been that of survival and perseverance, and with no designer does this ring truer than with new face Mathew Childs, whose personal story inspired his own creation. With an eye for the concept of recovery, Matthew based ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ around his experiences of the London Bombings and his journey to normalcy. It is this transitional period on which he has tried to focus, because at the end of it now stands the man himself, saved from despair by his new found occupation as a garden designer.

This experience is personified by both the architecture and the plant choices of Childs’ design, the space is dominated by a large artificial tunnel and at the beginning of this course one is shrouded in shade and moss though as the journey progresses, this constriction lessens and you find yourself in a much lighter environ populated by equally lighter plants.

By Josh Ellison

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