Thanks to Lucy and Ecover, I 'won' two tickets to the RHA Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – it's probably 15 years since we last went to one of the big garden shows, so Cliff and I were looking forward to our day out at Hampton Court.
The weather has turned from what seems like perpetual winter to a scorcher of a summer, I needed something cool and comfortable to wear so I ordered a dress - but on the evening before our day out 'Track'n'Trace' said my Emergency Frock was still in Plymouth. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I discovered the parcel was now at the local Post Office and ready for delivery! Unfortunately the minutes ticked by and there was no sign of the postman – we really needed to set off, it's a 100 mile drive to Hampton Court from Suffolk; we'd got to the outskirts of the village when the red post van was sighted, so I leapt out of the car, ambushed the postman, got the cheery blue polka-dot package and did a quick change in the passenger seat as we sped along!
Once we'd reached "leafy Surrey" we used the Park&Ride for the final part of the journey - well worth the £5 and very efficient.
So here are my thoughts on the show . . .
My favourite parts of the Ecover Garden were the shady bits at the back, which had some beautiful ferns – in fact ferns popped up in lots of the show gardens (I would love more and different varieties, in the shady areas of our garden.)
This was one of the 'concept gardens' and I think the most successful because the idea was clear but not over-played; I loved the planting and attention to detail – even down to sound effects and smoke. There was clever use of Foxtail Lilies and Kangaroo Paws to depict flames and embers gradually merging through ash grey foliage and grasses to lush green new growth.
Cliff and I both liked this design inspired by the flora of a limestone pavement; it is like a sculpture with shade-loving ferns (again) in the cool dark gaps between the blocks. The strong sunlight and heat on Friday demonstrated exactly how this environment works.
As we walked around the show gardens it was obvious that some plant choices more than others attracted insects – the bees, hover-flies and dragonflies (you can just see a flash of turquoise on the left of the photo) were loving this mix – grasses, foxgloves, burnet and campion – just like a roadside verge but re-interpreted in subtle rusty colours dotted with white. Wouldn't it be great if there were a prize for the garden design that attracted the most insect life during the show?!
It was even hotter inside the marquees, we could only bear to be inside them for a few minutes at a time before needing to recover outside where the temperature was 'only' 29C. The Foxtail Lilies caught our eyes again – I've never grown these, but fancy giving them a try – I love tall spires and the amber and cream ones were particularly beautiful.
This display of Alliums by Warmenhoven really stood out from the others in the huge Foral Marquee – it had such style and confidence and was meticulously finished.
So, did I buy anything?
I very nearly didn't, but in the floral marquee I spotted a stand of scented-leaf and species pelargoniums and couldn't resist having some to add to my collection.
I was a long hot day, after flicking through the official catalogue of the show and seeing some of the BBC coverage and other blogs, I realise there was lots we missed – but at the time, finding a patch of shade and having a rest from the heat and enjoying an ice-cream were priorities over making sure we'd 'done' everything . . . and we did enjoy having a day out together in the sunshine.
The weather forecast hints at a month or so of hot, dry sunny days ahead – it looks like the Emergency Frock has been a good investment!