Here’s some of the Best Small Gardens at the Hampton Court Flower Show 2012.
A new innovation at this year’s RHS Show is the inclusion of gardens that have been created for a fixed budget. Everything, including VAT had to be included in the costings for 4 gardens costing between £7,000 and £13,000 – the sort of budget that can easily be spent on a new kitchen.
The conceptual gardens at the Hampton Court Flower Show are always a mixed bag – the best are challenging, exciting and genuinely innovative. There are two that I loved at this year’s show. The Los Mariposas garden (supporting Amnesty International’s Butterflies of Hope campaign for the women of Nicaragua) has a kaleidoscope of tropical butterflies flitting amongst lush planting within a bright pink cube building set in a meadow of grasses and blue catanache. The garden is designed to contrast equality and freedom with pain and containment, reflecting the abuse and poor status of many women in Nicuaragua. The second conceptual garden to get my vote was the extraordinarily clever ‘Coral Desert’ where, within a cube of deep blue glass, a bank of cacti and succulents was planted densely together to resemble a coral reef. The garden drew attention to the increasing threat to coral reefs by recreating its beauty using desert plants. Very clever.
I found the big show gardens a big disappointment. It’s telling that I took very few photographs of them, while I took plenty of my favourite small gardens. I did photograph a few for their curiosity value rather than their inspiring ideas.
The Azorean Garden reflects the fact that volcanic activity has largely wiped out the indigenous flora and most of what grows on the islands has been introduced over the centuries. Everything from tree ferns to strelitzia and hydrangeas intermingle in this ‘anything goes’ garden. The most interesting feature is the vineyard with each vine enclosed by walls of volcanic rock that help them establish in such a seemingly hostile environment. Rather than being trained in the usual way, they are allowed to scramble over the walls.
The ‘Discover Jordan Garden’ confirmed what I already knew about the country – that it is largely desert and there are some nice ruins, but not many plants!
I’m rather hoping that Mrs Stapleton might come and live in my garden. I spotted her on the Fibrex stand in the Floral Marquee at Hampton Court and thought she would look rather lovely in a pot outside my front door. Unfortunately there was no-one to buy it from (it was Press Day and stands aren’t always manned) so I’ve commissioned someone to buy her. Fingers crossed.