The Healing Urban Garden

Healing Urban Garden, Hampton Court

I’ve been meaning to share this picture of the HUG (the Healing Urban Garden) designed by Rae Wilkinson for the Hampton Court Flower Show. The garden looks much more open viewed from the front, but from this angle, it’s easier to see the style of the planting, which is densely packed and surprisingly linear. That’s the part of the garden that fascinates me.

It’s an interesting, textural effect, reminding me of the rows commonly used in crop gardens, such as cutting gardens or kitchen gardens. I wonder if for some people, the sense of order and rhythm underpinning the design makes it more relaxing? If asked beforehand, I’d have said I preferred plants to mingle together naturally, but something in my pattern-loving nature responds to the technique, especially as it’s not rigidly applied.

The plants included lots of aromatic perennials and healing herbs, such as lavender, artemisia, thyme, stachys, rosemary, salvia, allium, eryngium and nepeta. The calming, subtle colour palette of silver, blue and green was lifted by purple, the bronzy foliage of head-high, multi-stemmed trees and lavender, the latter carried through to the walls and accessories.  Continue reading

Young Designers at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show: Coastal Garden

Coastal Retreat

The Royal Horticultural Society is working hard to encourage young talent into the gardening profession and it’s great to see their efforts paying off. The gardens that caught my eye at this year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show were created by designers under the age of 28, competing in two newly launched categories that extend the RHS’s influential Young Designer Competition.  Continue reading

Verbascum ‘Caribbean Crush’

Verbascum 'Caribbean Crush'

This summer, you’ll be much more likely to see me out trying to capture different forms of verbascums on my iPhone than to see me playing Pokémon Go.

I added this one, Verbascum ‘Caribbean Crush’, to my virtual collection at the recent RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. The flowers open upwards as the sturdy spire lengthens, starting off a soft, peachy yellow, gradually deepening to a burgundy copper as they age. The effect is of two cultivars in one: very striking.

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RHS Hampton Court’s Plant Marquee: Details

Viola perennis 'Elaine Quin'

Plant breeders are fascinated by details. Me too. At the recent RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, though time was tight, I spent a good hour checking out the displays and selling stands in the Plant Marquee. The ones that caught my eye did so because of the details. Did you notice that each flower of Viola ‘Elaine Quinn’ is a slightly different mix of violet and white with unique speckles and stripes?

Individually each is beautiful, together they give me pause: one minute I like the lighter ones best, the next the darkest ones. My eye alights on one flower then another like a human butterfly.  Continue reading

Roses at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Rosa 'A Shropshire Lad'

My sweetheart and I were counting our lucky stars earlier this week to have the chance to preview the wonderful RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. If you follow my blog, you’ll not be surprised that almost my first point of call was to catch up with some of my old buddies who were doing some nervous, last minute petal tweaking (always a massive temptation) on the David Austin display moments before the judges arrived. I didn’t think they had too much to worry about. Continue reading

City Twitchers’ Garden

Hampton Court City Twitchers

The post inspired by this week’s photo challenge (circle) has been hatching for some time – since July’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show to be precise!

When I first saw the garden, the snug dimensions of the globe wicker structure puzzled me until I realised it was a bird hide, woven by willow sculptor Carole Beavis. I must have been experiencing sensory overload at the time (Hampton Court can be like that) or you would have thought the bird houses on the walls, the log pile to attract insects and the wildlife-friendly flowers might have been a clue that this is an urban bird watchers’ garden. Even the cushion covers inside the hide have birds on them!  Continue reading

Desdemona – a new white English rose for 2015

Desdemona rose

I took my first picture of Rosa ‘Desdemona’ when I popped in to hug some dear friends working on the David Austin rose display at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Their new white English rose for 2015 was named to commemorate one of Shakespeare’s most independent, open-hearted and gentle heroines: an inspired choice!

Large fans were keeping the air circulating in the nearby Floristry Marquee to prevent the cut flowers wilting, but there was no such luxury in the Festival of Roses Marquee. The conditions were cruelly hot for humans to endure, but to my surprise, the roses appeared to relish being held captive inside a tent on the hottest July afternoon ever recorded in England.  Continue reading