It’s been a funny old Hampton Court Flower Show this year. Mainly because I was there not so much as gardening hack but as part of the show: on Wednesday you’d have found me in the Cookery Theatre, holding forth about all the different ways you can become self-sufficient (and that does mean you, wherever you live: for more, look out for my new bookywook, in a bookshop near you this Christmas).
But I did get the time to take a look around, while scuttling between giant fans in the doorways of the Floral Marquee: goodness but it was hot. I happened to be there on the hottest day of the week, too: 36 degrees it was. I was positively glowing.
As usual, show gardens, rose marquee and plant stands were full of good ideas to take home and make your own garden that little bit better. Here are a few of them:
Grow air plants in mini terrariums: Spotted in the Floral Marquee, these are just too perfect. Terrariums (terraria, whatev) are big right now, and air plants like these tillandsia are made for them. The glass keeps humidity levels high, and the plant needs only moisture in the air to survive. If you fancy a change for the Christmas tree this year – this could be it…
Use simple planting against textured black walls for sheer drama: Less is most definitely more in this striking planting discovered round the back of ‘Green Seam’, the Best in Show garden by Hadlow College students Stuart Charles Towner and Bethany Williams (we will, I am sure, be hearing more of these two in the not too distant future).
Build a garden room out of things you find kicking around: Garden rooms are definitely au naturel this year. This one was on the sweet little Winnie the Pooh garden by Anthea Guthrie (one of my favourite designers): also spotted at the show were a cosy looking pod woven from willow on the City Twitchers summer garden, and a hobbit hole of a turf cave merging seamlessly into its surroundings on the Macmillan Legacy garden.
Plant your patio: Simple but effective: pull out a paving slab or two from the patio and hey presto: instant planting opportunity. This one was breaking up the monotony of too much stone on the SABO: The Circle of Life garden.
Reinvent the pergola: It’s not compulsory to build your pergola out of wooden cross beams set on sturdy posts. This one was an old bit of mining kit (don’t ask me what bit but it did look impressively industrial) on the Green Seam garden.
Treat yourself to the Rose of the Year: I took quite a shine to the top rose for 2016, announced at the show as the next Rose of the Year has been for some time now. ‘Sunny Sky’ is a particularly fetching shade of yellow: hard to get right in the garden, but in this case spot on. It’s scented, too.