Flowers From The Farm: Locally Grown and Eco-Friendly

Roses, mallows, sweet peas, and antirrhinums with foliage

The topic of flower miles is one of the secrets in the closet of the cut flower industry. I travel a good few miles myself so can’t be too judgemental. It’s easier to grow big blousy roses in cool mountains, near to the equator where the days and nights don’t vary in length that much during the year – places like Kenya and Colombia. The supply chains that bring the roses from overseas farms to our homes are longer and more complicated than most people would think.

I remember watching a flower auction in Japan – most flowers we buy in Europe come through a similar auction hub in Holland. If you know how much care, thought and anxiety go into producing flowers in any part of the world, it’s chastening to see them reduced to commodities.

Boxed up flowers are opened briefly on stage and shown to assembled buyers in a room laid out like a lecture theatre. Models trying not to wilt after a long distance flight without water would seem a good analogy, but the flowers had better not be wilting at this point as they have many more miles to travel. Buyers hold their nerves as the price ticks down like a clock. The quicker they press, the more they’ll pay per box. If someone else snaps them up first, it’s game over.

White mallow flowers

You might have noticed by now that some of the flowers illustrated simply can’t be transported that way. They have been grown by Flowers From The Farm’s members for their display at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. The society promotes British grown flowers that don’t accrue air miles, being sold as locally as possible.  Continue reading

Summer gardens from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show: Final5 Retreat Garden

Final5 Retreat Garden

The small show gardens are a great way to see how plots of land diverge when each is dressed in carefully chosen colours, features and accessories to create a designer’s idea of gardening heaven.

I’ve only recently arrived back in the UK and this year’s show is all over but for the shouting. Undeterred, I’m determined to get into the spirit by giving a shout out to the Final5 Retreat Garden from last year. If you’re concerned that these pictures are old hat now, as styles have moved on to quarries and such-like in 2017, I won’t be hurt if you give this a miss and search The Reader for Hampton Court Flower Show instead. But if you’re still with me, here goes!   Continue reading

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

Kniphofia Lion King

Lion made from flowers, ferns and grasses

This beautifully crafted King of the Jungle (or more accurately, of the RHS Hampton Court Floristry Marquee) was part of Capel Manor College’s offering for 2016.

He was placed quite high on the stand so I had to tiptoe to capture him. I loved the ruffled textures of his mane and the tawny colour palette. He’s made from those small kniphofias that are so fashionable these days, with a backdrop of ferny foliage, and details picked out in moss, bark, grasses and seeds.   Continue reading

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