Sunday, 20 July 2014

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2014: Deadly sins

The conceptual gardens at this year's show were all themed on the idea of the seven deadly sins. The first thing I saw when I walked in was Sheena Seeks' garden "Sloth: Quarry of Silences". It won a gold medal and best conceptual garden.

Each tool was different and represented a person. There was a huge golden rock at the top (each person's goal), but if you went around to the back, you could see that there were three graves to fall into, representing the mind, body, and soul.

There didn't seem to be as much planting as I'd have liked, but I did like the wild landscape around the quarry.

Then there was "Lust", designed by Rachel Parker Soden. It won a silver medal, but I think it deserved better.

As you walked through the garden, you peeped into the glasshouse. There was a red sofa, exotic red and peachy flowers such as gloriosa lilies, anthuriums and orchids, and a red neon sign that said "Peep Show" at the front (and "Live Show" at the back). I loved it - it reminded me of two things I adore: Marion and Ted's secret relationship in The Go-Between, and the sit-com Peep Show. Even Sam Bain, who writes Peep Show with Jesse Armstrong, appreciated the "Lust" garden's sofa.

The planting outside was beautiful. There were roses in pretty pinks and passionate reds, dark brown chocolate cosmos, red and pink achillea, and tactile plants including fluffy grasses and delicate ammi. There were also succulents, kniphofia, and a river with a crossing.

A brilliant conceptual garden was "Pride - The Stonewall Garden: Breaking Down the Barriers" which got a well-deserved gold. Designed by Amanda Miller, it was inspired by her troubles growing up as a gay teenager in a small town in Australia.

I thought the smashed wall, and the black and white painting at the back were powerful images.

The garden itself was beautiful, with gorgeous, colourful planting.

Katerina Rafaj created a Pop Art style garden called "Gluttony: E123", showing the excesses of food consumed and discarded in some countries. It won a gold medal for its Andy Warhol-style tins of food, giant jelly beans, and the planting which included roses, and a pond in a sardine tin.

A conceptual garden that really drew the crowds was "Wrath: The Eruption of Unhealed Anger". It won a gold for designer Nilufer Danis. Inspired by volcanoes, with occasional eruptions of smoke or water, it was a fantastic garden to take in all at once. The stunning red echinacea, yellow kniphofia, and orange achillea looked amazing, and certainly evoked strong emotions. As a trainee counsellor as well as a florist, I enjoyed this garden a great deal - the idea of quiet anger simmering away and then erupting is a powerful one that was well executed here.

A silver-gilt winner was "Greed: Dichotomy Garden" by Sara Jane Rothwell and JoanMa Roig. It was a garden in two parts, and as such, I couldn't really connect with it. One side was supposed to be the judge's garden with neat box hedging and a throne, and the other was wilder as a result of the "sinner's greed". There was a wall with a small mesh partition to see into the other side of the garden.

The "Envy: The Grass is Always Greener" garden was inspired by the idiom "The grass is always greener on the other side" and won a silver medal for the designer Marcus Green. I couldn't see inside the green Perspex box (apparently it housed an artificial lawn), but I did love the grasses growing outside it.

I love the texture and movement of grasses - there's something quite primal and childhood-evoking about them - so I took several photos of grasses at the show. Partly for my own enjoyment, and partly for Sara Willman of My Flower Patch, who loves grasses too.

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