RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014

On Thursday I was fortunate to be invited to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (8-13 July 2014) with my sister, a Garden Designer at Chessington Garden Centre. Having visited Chelsea a few times, I was excited for my first visit to the Surrey-based Hampton Court equivalent!

Luckily we managed to avoid the rain, so could enjoy the gardens at leisure! Hampton Court Flower Show is more spaced out than Chelsea, so there were lots of opportunities for ice-cream breaks and Pimms stops. The general vibe was very relaxed, helped by the lively jazz band stand.

The flower show was split into three sections – Escape, Grow and Inspire – providing inspiration on design and planting, as well as featuring conceptual pieces focused around the seven deadly sins. I very much enjoyed the interactice elements, such as in the Royal Horticultural Society Garden which allowed you to view different garden specimens under microscopes – great fun!

My favourite gardens were the NSPCC Legacy Garden, designed to mark the 130th anniversary of the NSPCC children’s charity, Hedgehog Street – sponsored by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and the Lest We Forget Garden, designed by Steve Mann to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – a poignant reminder.

The NSPCC Legacy Garden:

The NSPCC Legacy Garden was a clever design, telling the story of the NSPCC’s continued presence through the ages with the use of dated pillars, which seperated sections of the garden like a timeline. Each section was designed to reflect a different era, taking visitors on a journey through the decades, with different toys (old bears to Lego), paving and planting to demonstrate its lasting legacy.

Hedgehog Street:

The Hedgehog Street garden, which won Best Small Garden, was designed to raise awareness of the small changes that visitors can make in their gardens to encourage hedgehogs and help stop their decline in numbers. Split into three different suburban styles, each garden had one thing in common – hedgehog-friendly holes in the garden boundaries to allow hedgehogs to roam between them.

Hedgehog Street

Lest We Forget Garden:

The Lest We Forget Garden was reminiscent of a World War One trench, complete with a dug-out, grow-your-own vegetables and barbed wire. Though you’d hope your garden never looked like this, Hampton Court provided a great forum to encourage visitors to remember those who fought in the war, in the style of a Rememberance Sunday service, and so it was a thought-provoking piece.

All in all, we had a very enjoyable day – lots of inspiration, access to experts, and entertainment! I will definitely go back next year, and hope that one day I can leave with my arms full of plants!

Did you go, and what did you think?

The Edible Garden Show, London

EGS logoFor Mother’s Day, my mum and I went to The Edible Garden Show at Alexandra Palace. In the last few years, my mum has really got into gardening – that is, things that she can plant, cook and eat!

Edible Garden SHow

With new roots in London, and now in its fourth year, The Edible Garden Show was the perfect day out, as it is all about championing the ‘grow-your-own’ revolution. Planted at the beginning of the growing season, it aims to inspire and advise all current and would-be growers!

Edible Garden Show

The show was teeming with a variety of exhibitors, with companies selling everything from seeds to watering systems, including cakes, insect houses, bird feeders, boots and herbs. There were organisations on hand to help you with everything from rearing poultry to bee-keeping, as well as wildlife charities you could talk to such as the Woodland Trust and RSPB.

Chickens

As well as exhibitors, there were four demonstration areas – The Potting Shed, The Cookery Theatre, The Experts Theatre, and The Poultry Area, where you could listen to advice from experts.

Cookery Theatre

My mum got to meet TV presenter, James Wong (who was lovely), as he signed copies of his book Homegrown Revolution, and tried to tempt ‘grow-your-owners’ into exploring more exotic edibles.

Whilst my mum loved the unusual black tomato plants and magazine goody bags from Garden Answers, my show / exhibitor highlights were:

  • Bradgate Woodcraft, who, as well as crafting amazing hardwood chopping boards and knife blocks, incorporate gorgeous miniature wooden mice into all of their designs
  • the edible flower shop, who sell packs of edible flowers; I’ve long admired dishes, drinks and desserts that incorporate edible flowers – they look fantastic!
  • the little round cake company, who made the most amazing miniature tiered cakes that both looked and tasted awesome!
  • PoultryTalk.com, a non-profit organisation whose staff had a genuine interest in helping people learn about poultry. They had an interactive display featuring fluffy day-old chicks!

Daffodils

Whilst I currently live in a flat with no garden, the show made me think about ways that I can introduce greenery indoors, as well as about the sort of garden I’d like to grow in the future.

As for my mum, I’m sure she’ll be back next year!

‘Roger the Gnome’ Mother’s Day Card

A long time ago I randomly painted a gnome at my parents’ house, and named him Roger. He’s lived there ever since and is quite a well-known guy, often introduced to guests over dinner.

With Mother’s Day approaching, I wanted to make a personalised card but was lacking inspiration. But then I spied Roger, and an idea struck! Here’s Roger in his heyday in the garden:

Roger the Painted Gnome

To make the card, I free-handed Roger in pencil, and coloured him in with bright colouring pencils. Eventually I settled on sticking him on green card with a 3D ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ banner!

Gnome Mother's Day Card

I was being a bit of a perfectionist whilst making this card, complaining to my sister that my first attempt ‘looked like a child had done it’, only for my sister to reply, ‘but you are her child!’

As mum is a bit of a grow-a-holic (tomatoes and the like), we went to The Edible Garden Show in London for Mother’s Day – ‘the ultimate grow-your-own event’. It was a really lovely day out!

If you’re reading this mum, Happy Mother’s Day! With love from Rog and me! x