A couple of weeks ago began the year’s first major garden show, courtesy of the people of Cardiff and the RHS. The Cardiff Flower Show is as much a celebration of the beginning of spring as it is of the advancements in horticulture and breeding over the previous year and this year the show has expanded to accommodate the growing interest it has received from the local public, namely by introducing two new floral marquees and a host of different garden motifs.
This year’s show has also continued the six years young tradition of being more inclusive to younger generations of gardeners through its wheelbarrow exhibition competition, which every year awards one Welsh primary school with an accolade based on the voting preferences of the public who visit the show. This is the only category of the show that is judged by an external audience rather than appointed adjudicators. The motif of the competition was centred on ‘sports and shoots’, which each school had to artistically represent from the confines of a wheelbarrow, with results being announced at the end of the show.
Also this year, the show introduced a new award entitled ‘Young Gardener of the Year’, further implementing a common interest among children in horticulture, which, as we’ve previously insisted, is as essential to their future as a firm understanding of personal economy.
Now let’s talk about the champions of the show and also of our own inspiration here at Floral & Hardy, and to this end I cannot exalt a garden above the ‘Regeneration’ project at Cardiff, which, not unlike the Floral & Hardy effort at Hampton Court some years back, used predominantly recycled materials.
For example, and I’d foresee this becoming a growing trend due to its multiple applications, the main border of the garden is formed from reclaimed storage palettes – by simply painting them and planting the middle slat they are transformed from ugly wooden edifices to practical and aesthetic vertical planters. The overlapping nature of their design means they serve as a perfect platform for more delicate climbers such as Clematis or Passion Flower, whilst simultaneously disguising your border. But the eco-friendliness doesn’t stop there, the paving slabs used in the garden path are actually slices of felled tree trunk and the water feature’s hard material is primarily recycled slate tiles from Wales’ roofing industry.
While the ecological merits of Regeneration continue, I want to take some column space to talk about the people’s champions at the show. The gardens in question were entitled ‘Naturalistic’, ‘Dream Journey’ and ‘Off The Shelf’, and it is the second of the three in particular that I wish to address.
‘Dream Journey’ uses the out-of-season technique of bedding displays to ingenious effect and by using a dense arrangement of a combination of succulents and low growing perennials, the designer has constructed an organic train carriage. The purpose of this feature is to evoke the sense of journey which defines the garden as a whole, with the two thematic halves divided by a wall – one is presented as the natural landscape of the British countryside, while the other embodies the dreamscape that a commuter may interpret whilst on the journey. The carriage itself was constructed and illustrated using a mixture of Helichrysum Italicum, Rhodiola Pachyclados, Sedum and Alternanthera and, for their innovative use garners my favouritism for the show.
All in all, a great show. Roll on Chelsea!
By Josh Ellison