garden furniture garden photography garden seating

Are you sitting comfortably? No 14 of a very occasional series.

Here we are back with another of my lost episodes of this series, no 14

Here we are back with another selection of garden seats we have found while visiting gardens. I hope you enjoy them.

I will begin with seating we spotted at this year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, in displays and in show gardens. Few  show gardens at RHS shows are without at least one bench for two, so there is a wide variety of styles to suit the variety of garden styles. In the show gardens the seats are designed to be looked at by judges and visitors so do not need to be either comfortable or practical.


Let’s move on now to seats we discovered in open gardens either through the National Garden Scheme or open all year. These should be comfortable to use and perhaps worn out from too much use or too much exposure to the elements.

This first batch of photos were taken at a local garden, Wollerton Old Hall, a truly remarkable garden because of its strong design but also because of the plants there.


This final group are all seats we found at a garden surrounding Harvington Hall where we visited for traditional English afternoon tea.

We hope you enjoyed this selection and we will soon be back with more examples for you to look at.


Cheshire colours flower show garden design garden wildlife gardening gardens hardy perennials light light quality RHS RHS shows

The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park – Part 3 – the bigger picture

So far we have looked at the main show gardens and the work of young designers and school children but in this post I just want to share a miscellany of photos of the things that caught my eye at this year’s show. The RHS had chosen “Carnival” as the theme for this years’s show so bright colours shone everywhere. Even the sky was the brightest blue possible which after getting caught in thunder storms every other time we have visited the show was a real surprise. The colours were crisp and the shadows sharp.

2014 07 27_1973 2014 07 27_1991

2014 07 27_1992 2014 07 27_2011

The sky was blue and the sun was bright and hot so we donned our sun hats, which co-ordinated well with our coffee cups.

2014 07 27_1974 2014 07 27_1975 2014 07 27_1976 2014 07 27_1977

The show was full of colourful characters some real some some imaginary.

2014 07 27_1969 2014 07 27_1970

This was probably the most colourful show garden of all designed by Janet Leigh for a school with children with specific needs. When it is rebuilt in the school it will be inviting to the children and so stimulating to all their senses. Even the pathways which looked like coloured tarmac was of a special “bounce back safety surface”. The way Janet had used coloured plastic sheet to cast moving coloured “reflections” on every surface was amazing.

2014 07 27_2026 2014 07 27_2024 2014 07 27_2025 2014 07 27_2023 2014 07 27_2022 2014 07 27_2021

As a total contrast but also full of colour was the little garden created by members of the Cottage Garden Society for their promotional display.

2014 07 27_2015 2014 07 27_2012

There was colour in the sales areas too, the flowers in pots for sale and these crazy garden slipper clogs – I just had to have pair so bought myself  some covered in red peppers just like those on the far right of the top row.

2014 07 27_2008 2014 07 27_2007

Show gardens themselves and the nursery trade stands in the Floral Marquee had bright splashes of colour to catch the eye and the camera lens.

2014 07 27_1935 2014 07 27_2016

2014 07 27_2017 2014 07 27_1999


2014 07 27_2019 2014 07 27_2018


This must be one of the strangest and most colourful things we have ever come across at an RHS show, a ferris wheel where every other seat was occupied by a giant excessively brightly coloured flower arrangement. Probably not the best fairground ride for those with hay fever!

2014 07 27_1968 2014 07 27_1967 2014 07 27_1958 2014 07 27_1957

So that is the end of my three posts about the RHS Flower show at Tatton Park, but I thought I would finish with one final photo of a wonderful insect hotel. Being keen wildlife gardeners Jude and I always look out for interesting ideas. This one was a true beauty.


2014 07 27_2005


Cheshire colours flower show garden design garden designers garden furniture garden photography garden seating gardening gardens grasses hardy perennials light meadows ornamental grasses

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park – Part 2 – children as gardeners

One of the most enjoyable features of Tatton and perhaps also one of its most important elements is the encouragement of young talent be it young garden designers creating their first RHS show gardens or local schools trying their hand out at making gardens.

We always enjoy the work of the young designers at Tatton Flower Show and it is here that the RHS deliberately showcase young designers’ talent but sadly there seem so few. This year there were three young designers who had been given the opportunity to create their first RHS show gardens. I wish this chance was given to more! The standard of the work of these three though was astounding with a freshness in their planting and originality in the way they considered their brief. The first two shots are of the garden designed by the winner of the title “Young Garden Designer of the Year” and show his use of soft planting schemes of perennials scattered among grasses. This was a beautiful atmospheric garden which made us imagine what it would be like to lounge on that seat listening to the insect life busy in the grasses all around. It would be like lying in an old fashioned wildflower meadow.

The third shot shows another young designer’s garden which was in fact an outdoor gym. The idea was a good one but to me it was too much of a gym and too little garden.

The last three photos are of the third young designer’s garden which again has gentle planting featuring many grasses but it has the added interest of coloured glass screens which created interesting colour casts when the sun got to work. We enjoyed this garden too and could see a great future for the designer.

2014 07 27_1941 2014 07 27_1940


2014 07 27_1939 2014 07 27_1938 2014 07 27_1937 2014 07 27_1936

The local schools always put on a show with the Wow factor. This year they were challenged to create gardens based on book characters and others took the chance of planting up recycled items. One thing that shows through is the young minds’ use of colour.

Share my pictures and revel in the ideas and the colours. Try to work out the stimulus for the gardens too.

2014 07 27_1859 2014 07 27_1860 2014 07 27_1861 2014 07 27_1862

2014 07 27_1865 2014 07 27_1864 2014 07 27_1866 2014 07 27_1867 2014 07 27_1868 2014 07 27_1869 2014 07 27_1870 2014 07 27_1871 2014 07 27_1872 2014 07 27_1873

2014 07 27_1878 2014 07 27_18832014 07 27_1882 2014 07 27_1881 2014 07 27_1876 2014 07 27_1877 2014 07 27_1884 2014 07 27_1885 2014 07 27_1893 2014 07 27_1892


As you can imagine we came away feeling happier about the future of gardening and garden designers. Surely a few of the school children who exhibit at Tatton each year will go on to choose gardening in one form or another as a career. Let us hope so!

Cheshire flower show garden design garden designers gardening gardens RHS

The RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park – Part 1 – The Best of the RHS Shows?

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.

2014 07 27_1835 2014 07 27_1838

2014 07 27_1837 2014 07 27_1853

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.

2014 07 27_1836 2014 07 27_1841

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.

2014 07 27_1839 2014 07 27_1840 2014 07 27_1842 2014 07 27_1843

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.

2014 07 27_1844 2014 07 27_1845

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.

2014 07 27_1912 2014 07 27_1918

2014 07 27_1915 2014 07 27_1913

2014 07 27_1914 2014 07 27_1920

2014 07 27_1922 2014 07 27_1920

2014 07 27_1919 2014 07 27_1921

“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.

2014 07 27_1847 2014 07 27_1848

2014 07 27_1850 2014 07 27_1849 2014 07 27_1851

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.

2014 07 27_1852 2014 07 27_1854 2014 07 27_1856 2014 07 27_1857

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.

2014 07 27_1909 2014 07 27_1910 2014 07 27_1911 2014 07 27_1903

After that little diversion we can return to the show gardens which appealed to us.

2014 07 27_1923 2014 07 27_1924 2014 07 27_1925 2014 07 27_1926 2014 07 27_1927 2014 07 27_1928

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.


flower show garden design garden photography gardening hardy perennials July ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture photography poppies RHS town gardens

Third Visit to the Tatton Park Show

The third and final post about this summer’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show begins by visiting the Back-to-Back Gardens, the small show gardens with masses of interest and appeals. These gardens are full of ideas for gardeners whatever the size of their gardens with inspiration for planting combinations, furniture and features.

There was a group of small show gardens designed around the theme of “The Orchestra” and these turned out to be our favourites. The garden designers had risen to the challenge and seemed to have really enjoyed creating such imaginative gardens. Each one evoked harmony and rhythm and the rise and fall of a musical piece.

But this garden of rhythmic grass was a true delight to the eye. It was very difficult to fully capture its effect with a camera, but not as difficult as it would be to cut the grass!

In complete contrast to the Orchestra Gardens were the Conceptual Gardens, a set of three designs intended to present ideas, sometimes controversial, and make the viewers think. We do not always appreciate such designs but the trio this year were full of meaning and original design ideas.

We always enjoy a wander around the nursery stands at these shows and Tatton always attracts a good variety. We only bought one little plants this time though, an Aeonium that sports leaves of deepest, shiny purple almost black, called Logan’s Rock.

But this nursery stand all based on pink was empty. The discerning gardener this year definitely dislikes pink!

conservation flower show garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening hardy perennials July meadows ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography RHS The National Trust wildlife

A Day at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

We have been to the Chelsea Flower Show, Harrogate Flower Shows and The Autumn and spring Malvern Flower Shows but the one we enjoy the most is always the one set in the grounds of Tatton Park. Luckily this is the RHS show closest to home. Although Chelsea is often called the greatest flower show, having visited once we have no desire to go again. But we frequently go to Tatton.

Tatton Park Show is described as “the North’s greatest garden party”. We enjoy its large show gardens, its “Back to Back” gardens and children’s gardens but most of all those designed by young garden designers. This is where the UK’s garden designs of the future lie and the standards are always so high. The designers have to be under 28 and this year their brief was to design a garden based on the theme of “colour”. We were so pleased when we learnt that the designer of our favourite one of these gardens had won the accolade of “RHS National Young Designer of the Year”. Tristen Knight designed this garden using recycled materials and it was full of interesting and original ideas and design feature. The colour of his planting of perennials and grasses was beautiful, all orange and biscuit. He studied for a BA in Industrial Design and Technology before training in garden design at Writtle College. He spoke with great enthusiasm and excitement about his garden and he told us about the materials he had chosen and how they were all items from building sites. For example the rill was formed from a an “H” beam and the flexible screening was created from scaffolding boards. I found it hard to take photographs that did justice to this brilliant young designer’s work. We enjoyed his garden and talking to him about it.

We moved on to the main large garden show gardens, some of which we liked whereas others we did not like at all. But that I suppose is what design is all about. If we all liked the same plants and designs wouldn’t gardens be boring?

I begin looking at this set of gardens by featuring our favourite, a garden based on circles achieving a wonderful peaceful atmosphere through the planting which was light and wispy. It relied heavily on grasses to do so, with one planting area consisting of just grasses and one variety of allium.

It received the Best in Show award!

This show garden featured decking curves and colourful planting choice.

The next sequence of photos illustrates the wide variety of show gardens at Tatton. Enjoy the tour.

Once we had enjoyed the large show gardens we made a bee line for the garden designed by students and staff of Reaseheath College, partly because their garden is always so interesting with elements of attracting wildlife but also because this is the college where I followed some of my horticulture training several decades ago. This year their garden excelled, with such vibrancy in the planting and in its features. Again the design integrated beautiful features created to attract wildlife.

To finish my first post about the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show I want to share a couple of photos of children’s gardens celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. In the next post we shall visit the Floral Marquee and the smaller show gardens.