For many years all that the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show meant to me was long queues of traffic in the area which meant finding alternative routes to/from Kingston. Then I started going to RHS Chelsea and it finally dawned on me that I ought to give RHS Hampton Court a try. Not only is Hampton Court that much closer but the flower show is somewhat cheaper too.
Two short bus rides got me to Hampton Court but it was quite a trek from there to the flower show which was held in Home Park some distance behind the Palace. And having got in there was then another bit of a walk past the shops and over The Long Water to get to the first of the show gardens that were spread across the site.
I refused to pay a few guide for a guide just to get a map so I relied on the few maps posted around the site to find my way around. I also took a photo of one so that I could refer to that in case of emergency.
The garden above was one of the selection of smaller gardens all of which showed that you do not need a big space to make a big impression. The one above was my sort of garden with strong physical elements, water and bold planting.
Sometimes it was the little things that I liked, little things like these ducks.They were part of a childhood garden that had children's toys scattered through it.
By then the early rain had gone and that promised for the rest of the day slipped away making the umbrella in my bag somewhat redundant.The walking was starting to take its toll too and I took my first coffee break, with some cake of course. The site was well laid out in that respect with refreshment stall liberally spread and I chose one with seating as I wanted a rest too.
There was a series of larger gardens near the main entrance and these took advantage of the space they had to get very physical. I especially liked one made out of wooden packing crates as we could walk through it. The flowers and fruit were displayed in crates which was both structurally pleasing and also brought more colours in to play.
One of my favourite gardens was this one by Jordan's. Others liked it too and it won the People's Award after the judges strangely only gave it a silver. The wild flowers were fresh and vibrant and the grass paths made this a garden that begged to be explored. Some were allowed to while the rest of us had to settle for watching from the edges.
Across the main path more wild flowers did their best to hide a metal cow. I spent a long time walking around and looking at from different angles. In addition to the brilliant cow their was a large brick bridge and some bikes. The construction of the garden was impressive as was the detail of the planting.
Rusty metal featured in quite a few gardens and in three that I have featured here, though in the one above it was the damaged walls that had the most impact. Despite this dereliction the flowers still managed to make a very positive statement to show the power that gardens can have.
Another star garden was this one featuring a volcano that spluttered in to life from time to time and even threw out some water on unsuspecting passers-by. The lingering smoke added movement and interest but the eye-grabbing feature of the garden was the striking flowers, as it should be, with the colours and shapes vying to be the more distinctive.
More wild flowers and more rusty metal. It's not my fault that I love them both.
I had lunch somewhere around here somewhere. The queues were daunting and it was something of a battle to get a table but I managed to grab a posh sandwich and to find somewhere to eat it. This was just a short break as there was still a lot to see.
Alongside the competition gardens there were several that were there to promote commercial offerings. This garden was for Ocean Spray which is why the pond was full of cranberries. I loved the garden but refused the free samples.
I had more success with my cloth bag collecting. The best one was the Telegraph bag. At Chelsea I had to pay £2 for one and they gave away a copy of the Telegraph with it, but here the bag was only £1.40 and there was a decent jar of jam thrown in too.
Chelsea has just the one marquee but Hampton Court had several. I managed to see part of just one of them. That was not a problem as I had gone to see that gardens and that had filled five hours, after which I was happy to go home and to file my new bags with all the others.
RHS Hampton Court impressed me and there is a very good chance that I'll be going back, probably next year.