Okay so Chelsea gets all the publicity, all the air time on the BBC and is the place to be seen if you class yourself a “celebrity”. Some even see it as another “Ascot”, a chance to be seen and to wear a designer outfit and a big hat! Hampton Court Show gets plenty of coverage too in the press and on TV but is not seen as “the place to be seen”.
I have been to Chelsea and won’t go again. There are simply too many people there who are not interested in plants or gardens and let’s be honest the show gardens are just “not real” are the? Sorry, but it is about time budgets for show gardens were controlled and designers were brought back down to earth and restricted to designing with plants in season.
However go to the RHS Tatton Show and you are in for a treat. It is a garden show for real gardeners and the show gardens are full of realistic ideas to stimulate the thinking gardener. However the BBC just give it two half-hour slots. Not enough celebrities in attendance and no visit by the Queen I suppose! Just look at the look of sheer delight on the faces of Monty Don and Carol Klein when they broadcast from Tatton and listen to their obvious and genuine enjoyment in their voices. This year the theme of the show was carnival time and it was promoted as “The Great Garden Carnival” with the elements of “inspire, escape, grow and feast”.
Just like the BBC coverage we shall start with the show gardens. These show gardens are far more realistic with most designers using plants flowering and performing that are in season.
This means that gardeners can take away ideas to try in their own patches especially plant partnerships. Just look at the photo of the Echinacea and Achillea together, a combination we have used before but not in that colour combination, which looks so fresh and lively. And alongside that photo another showing the same Achillea with Helenium. This pale lemon Achillea appeared on many of the show gardens and looks a very worthwhile plant.
We were pleased to see grasses being used in fresh ways too especially smaller ones with gentle whispy flowers which showed off one of their attributes, moving in the wind, so well. They were used with Chocolate Cosmos on one garden and with Veronicas on another, both equally effective.
Our favourite garden was this one by a young designer, his first ever RHS garden and he received a Gold. He was a very happy designer! We spoke to him for a long while and he explained his ideas and choice of plants to us. It was a fresh lively garden and as he pointed out to us not expensive to build. The strength of the design was in the use of triangles, which in itself is unusual.
This garden illustrated how corton steel can be used really well as long as the planting co-ordinates with it too. The pics show how well the steel and the plants worked together.
“Grow Your Own” was a feature in several gardens and appeared throughout all aspects of the show. Look at these smart raised beds and great ways to support climbing beans.
And of course no show based on creativity is complete without a little quirkiness! How about purple and lime green cauliflowers or a water feature based on recycled exhaust pipes, multicoloured birdboxes and even a rainbow of ribbons.
And of course there are always a few plants in the Floral Marquee or in the show gardens large and small that catch our eyes.
After that little diversion we can return to the show gardens which appealed to us.
I shall follow this post about the RHS Tatton Park Show with two more, one celebrating the gardeners of the future and one the colours that made the show so vibrant.