Wednesday, 9 July 2014

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2014: Blue is the warmest colour

I visited the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show yesterday on a day that started off with bright, warm sunshine, but ended up with a very cold thunderstorm. Having seen the weather forecast, I thought it best to visit the gardens first, and then go for lunch when the rain started. As the rain was off and on for the rest of the day, I spent a lot of time taking photos under an umbrella. Occasionally, there was even beauty to be found when the umbrella matched the garden!

This is the gold-winning Vestra Wealth's Vista by Paul Martin. Such a beautiful garden with cool blues and whites but warm textures. There were tall showstoppers such as agapanthus, angelica and hydrangea, and lower-level beauties like the silver-leafed Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' (which I also spotted in Claire from Plantpassion's flower farm earlier this year).

I was intrigued by the NSPCC Legacy Garden by Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith. As well as having a beautiful design, gorgeous plants, cute toys (hello Peppa Pig!) and messages from children in jars, it featured a timeline spanning the charity's 130 year history. 

I loved the prettiness of the 1920s-inspired herbs, pink roses and achillea (a very popular flower in gardens and displays this year), the vibrancy of the 1970s-inspired bright dahlias, snapdragons and kniphofia (red hot pokers), and the sophisticated blues and purples of the 2014 agastache, agapanthus (another popular flower) and Geranium 'Rozanne'. 

I'm fairly sure Geranium 'Rozanne' was in the gold-winning Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants display. You can see it here with Escallonia 'Golden Carpet', bred by Neil Alcock.

Essence of Australia by Jim Fogarty won a gold medal and best show garden, and featured, as you might expect, lots of blue-green eucalyptus. I'm so used to using it in floristry that I forgot I first heard about the foliage as a child, when I learnt that pandas eat bamboo and koalas eat eucalyptus (but I never learnt about British trees or flowers, which was a shame).

Untying the Knot: The Bounceback Foundation Garden by Frederic Whyte won a silver medal. It has a gorgeous colour scheme that shows how to warm up blues and purples by contrasting them with sunny oranges. There were lupins, echinops and eryngium thistles, achillea and lavender.

Lavender was used in many gardens, and Downderry has a beautiful, gold-winning display again in the Floral Marquee. I overheard someone there saying that one variety had sold out because it was exclusive to their nursery (I assume it was one of the unusual, pretty pink or lilac varieties), so make sure you visit the stand early if you want the best selection to choose from!

Finally, a taster (with more to come later) of the Flowers from the Farm stand in the Roses and Floristry Marquee. This was their first year displaying at Hampton Court and, with the help of their network of flower growers and the florist Martin and the Magpie, they put together a stunning display.

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