1 in 10 Garden by Charlie Hartigan

Flowers in the 1 in 10 Garden at Tatton Park Flower Show

I always look forward to seeing the finalists in the annual Young Designer competition at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. This is a detail of Charlie Hartigan’s 1 in 10 garden, voted the People’s Choice for the Best Large Garden. I loved the colour combination and the abundance of traditional cottage garden plants in a contemporary space.   Continue reading

Campanula takesimana ‘Elizabeth’

Campanula takesimana 'Elizabeth' at a flower show

This is an outtake from yesterday’s Chalky Pastel Flowers post. Not because it forgot its words or slipped on something, I hasten to add – I decided that it didn’t help my contention. It was too maroon.

Although the band and thin stripes decorating these scalloped bells would have qualified as chalky, and the flowers do pale to a lovely antique pink as they age, there’s more to this story. The ribbed buds, the debonaire green flower ‘caps’, the purple stems and tinges on the foliage, the long bell shape with its parabolic edge… if somebody told me one of these flowers had won a Nobel Prize for something and asked me to guess which one, I’d have no hesitation in pointing to the campanula. Continue reading

White and Chalky Pastel Flower Palette from the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Alcea rosea 'The Bride' - white double hollyhock

Alcea rosea ‘The Bride’

It’s just my personal taste, but while white flowers such as this double hollyhock entrance me, I’m rarely convinced by white borders. I take in the overall effect, think “Ooh! A classic white border. Perhaps it will be better at its peak?”, then move on.

This year’s Tatton Park Flower Show gave me an insight into what twist a white border might have that would truly inspire me: chalky pastels.

Rosa 'Kew Gardens'

Rosa ‘Kew Gardens’

Imagine this recipe: take pure white flowers, sully the mix with flowers that have creamy, ivory or white backgrounds decorated with streaks or blotches of pink, peach, yellow, lavender and green, then add a good helping of pure, pale pastel flowers. Use colours as soft as you dare to create a dreamy effect – I’m thinking of Edinburgh rock colours.

Lilium 'Colosseum'

Lilium ‘Colosseum’

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Finding [urban] Nature | RHS Tatton Park’s F[u]N Garden

If you’re the kind of person who smiles to see plants growing in cracks in (someone else’s) walls and pavements, puzzles over vines emerging from nowhere and loves the summer weeks when Buddleias with masses of arching, lilac-like flowers cling on to ‘seemingly every derelict building‘, this one’s for you.

Community garden on a brownfield site with deckchairs and bunting

I spoke to Roy Lancaster (a lovely fellow) at the Chelsea Flower Show years ago. Identifying me as a fellow Lancastrian by my accent, he told me how a local quarry’s unusual and diverse range of plants were brought to light when a schoolchild took a bunch of flowers to school for a nature project.

An abandoned area of disturbed land where people rarely tread is as good a home, if you happen to be a rare orchid, as anywhere else. Nature doesn’t have any concept of location, location, location – or at least not in the human way, where a house is worth ten times more in one place than in another.

Plants poking through layer of broken bricks and concrete

Plants flower where the seeds happen to fall, if they can. We’ve all seen a tangling of nature and building debris like this: we just don’t expect to see it faithfully recreated and offered up for our consideration at a flower show. Eds Higgins’ Finding [urban] Nature garden (hereafter, the F[u]N garden, following the designer’s styling) imagined a brownfield community garden as part of the RHS Young Designer Competition. Continue reading

Delphinium ‘Flamenco’ from the Highlander Series

Delphinium with pink double flowers, streaked green

During the summer, I dedicate more time to taking photos than to sharing them. If you’re a flower stalker too, you’ll understand the temptation. After all, a delphinium waits for no man (or woman), blooming in response to triggers we understand at an abstract level rather than feel happening at a cellular one. It’s somewhere between a pleasure and a frenzy to be in full-on photo gathering mode, so, as September taps on the door, it feels good to slow down and enjoy revisiting summer’s photo stash.

This plant wasn’t labelled at RHS Tatton Park, where I saw it, so I’ve had to look it up. Delphinium ‘Flamenco’ is part of the Highlander series of Scottish-bred delphiniums. Continue reading

Rudbeckia Summerina ‘Orange’: Garden Plant Plus Prairie Native Equals A Heavenly Daisy

A flower cluster

A plant with bold colours and daisy-style flowers effortlessly commanded my attention in the marquee at the recent Tatton Park Flower Show. Several plant nurseries had chosen to feature it prominently on their display and this is not a plant to hide its light under a bushel. Identified as Rudbeckia Summerina ‘Orange’, it’s a relatively new hybrid and one to watch. If it seems deeply familiar, that’s perhaps because both of its parents, Rudbeckia and Echinacea, are so widely grown.  Continue reading

Fingers Burnt By Plants (Or Is It The Plants Getting Burnt?)

Tiarella flowers

Tiarella flowers setting the trends at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Love isn’t always requited between humans & plants, but we shouldn’t allow the lamentable failure of a relationship to thrive to put us off one type of plant entirely. Easy to say, but harder to venture a tender heart the second time around.

I was first acquainted with a brownish heuchera that lived in a hanging basket in an out of the way place, seemingly never watered. Most of the soil had fallen out and only a spindly root system prevented the heuchera from going the same way. The plant never looked great, but you had to respect its toughness. I can’t claim to have fallen in love; at best we were on nodding terms.

Contrasting brown, green and purple leaves covered in raindrops

Heucherella ‘Redstone Falls’ with contrasting varieties

Inspired by that one, I went on to grow several heucheras, tiarellas and their hybrid, heucherellas, using their mounds of patterned leaves as ground cover. They really are plants you can paint land with, in England, at least. Unsurprisingly, I found myself getting fond of them.  Continue reading

My Top Twelve Picks from the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

  1. Award-winning fruit (and veggies)
Basket of cherries, gooseberries and currants

Andrew Baggaley’s first prize winning basket of cherries, gooseberries and currants

2. Bees for Manchester

3. The Young Designer Competition

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the competition, five finalists have been invited to create gardens rather than the usual three. This is always one of my favourite parts of RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.

Calm in Chaos Garden was designed by Max Harriman to be like a woodland trail

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