Highlights Of Hampton Court 2008

Posted on: 08 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

What to see at this year's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

With a showground covering 33 acres, Hampton Court Flower Show has plenty to see and do.

The main attraction is the show gardens. Among them this year, there are a number of hot planting schemes incorporating orange, peach, coral, salmon and red flowers.

'Branching Out With Copella - The Apple Juice Garden' cooled this down with cream and berry colours. Two water features filled with golden apples form the centrepiece, and three 30-year-old apple trees reclaimed from a disused orchard remind visitors of the plight of English apples. During the trees' lifetime, two thirds of apple orchards in Britain have been lost. The warm and soothing garden has been designed by Sadie Stowell.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2008 - Three In OneSimilar colours have been used in Garden Friendly Brothers Ltd.'s 'Three In One' garden, against a striking backdrop of a recycled metal tree with leaves that hold water and bird seed. A decked space for sitting lies alongside a lawn for family activities. A third of the garden is devoted to edible planting, and the grow your own theme is evident in many of the gardens. This coincides with the RHS's campaign to get more of us growing fruit and veg.

African style keyhole and bag gardens by the charity Send A Cow demonstrate how to grow vegetables in a hotter climate, where water is precious. Maximum produce from minimum space is achieved organically. All plants are functional in 'Back To The Future - Lessons from Africa for the Survival of the British Garden', whether they provide a sustainable source of food, fodder or fuel, attract bees and butterflies, or simply provide shade. An eco earth-dome and a chicken hut show the kind of work that the charity does.

The sustainable theme continues in the 'Future Garden', designed by Moya O'Hara for The London Wildlife Trust and Royal Parks. It re-uses otherwise wasted items, and incorporates a wildlife wall with homes for creatures to move in to. It looks 50 years into the future, with mosaics and sculptures representing some new wildlife we might expect to find in the UK as a result of climate change.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2008 - Branching Out With Copella - The Apple Juice Garden'Whirling Butterflies' by Iron & Fire Gallery shows how effective sculpture can be in the garden, with eye-catching gnarled heads that could be root vegetables or African carvings. Showgoers who want to create a similar effect in their own gardens can choose from a host of garden ornaments for sale. Those on display include mini wire and bead lizards, metal meerkats, burr wood owls, tall giraffes, prehistoric figures with plant 'hair', giant sandstone spheres and much more.

Something quite different is on show in the Porsche Garden. As well as featuring a shiny car, it highlights the issue of front gardens being lost to parking space. Instead of a front garden that's paved over and contributing to flooding, a platform moves up to accommodate a car and back down to ground level where it blends with the surroundings using gravel and houseleeks, to create a smart urban space.

Urban living is also explored in 'Living on the Ceiling (because there's no more room down there)', by Warwickshire College, where floating planters create a green wall. This 'hanging garden' provides privacy while allowing city dwellers to take in the view. Vertical gardening is tipped as a growing trend and has already been in evidence at Chelsea.

Views form the focal point of the Homebase 'Room With A View' garden, which incorporates a platform covered in a green roof garden, raised so visitors can appreciate the vistas. Designed by Philippa Pearson, it also offers shade and shelter to a seating area below.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2008 - PorscheA sheltered spot to sit has been created by digging deep, on the other hand, in the 'World of Water' garden and Sadolin 'Four Seasons' garden, both of which feature pleasant sunken patios.

The Widex 'Hearing Garden' includes features chosen for sound as well as appearance. Leaves rustle and chimes ring in the wind, a limestone water feature babbles and birds sing.

'Cuimhne' is a protest garden. The Irish name means memory, and a stone sphere bearing the words 'no more genocide' sits in the middle of turfed earthwork ripples, reminiscent of Maiden Castle.

The concept garden 'Forest2' features 30 trees and parallel mirrors, arranged to give the sense of being in a vast forest. It creates a calming space.

In the four floral marquees, visitors can explore fabulous plant displays. This is also the place to buy something to take home for your own garden. In between, the Daily Mail pavilion features a country cottage complete with garden, greenhouse, vegetable plot and stables with donkeys.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2008 - Growing TastesThere are practical demonstrations in the flower arranging tent and the Growing Tastes marquee. Showgoers can learn about growing and cooking vegetables and fruit.

Weather watchers will be interested in the Met Office Climate Change Dome. Although it seems it could be several generations before gardeners have to worry about replacing the lush English lawn with Mediterranean planting.

Over in the Plant Heritage marquee is the opportunity to learn about the NCCPG national plant collections and endangered species. There's also heaven for rose enthusiasts with the Festival of Roses exhibition, which includes Rose Question Time with experts every day.

For those with grandchildren to entertain, there are several children's gardens plus family activities over the weekend. So you can inspire your young charges and perhaps pass on those green fingers to the next generation.

Visitor Information

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2008 is open between 10am and 7.30pm on Tuesday 8th July and Wednesday 9th July to RHS members only and from 10th to 13th July to non-members as well. On Friday it closes at 5.30pm and the sell-off starts at 4.30pm.

Ticket hotline: 0870 842 2234

RHS show information: 020 7649 1885 or: www.rhs.org.uk/flowershows

Have you been or are you going to any flower shows this year? You can  discuss the gardens in the 50connect forum.

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