Archive for the ‘Plant and flower shows’ Category

Cannas on the Hayward's Stand, Plant Fair, Great Dixter Oct 2011Looks like the weather is going to be perfect for Great Dixter’s fourth plant fair this weekend,  5th and 6th October from 11-4pm. There’ll be 20 very choice nurseries attending, mostly from the UK, but also featuring sellers from France, Ireland, Sweden and Holland. What a treat!

Talks at Great  Dixter plant fair 2

Nursery owners will also be giving talks on a wide range of plants over the weekend, including Neil Lucas from Knoll Gardens talking about grasses, Paul Barney from Edulis on Edible Plants, Derry Watkins from Special Plants on Annuals and Marina Christopher from Phoenix Plants on Herbaceous plants. What a fantastic line-up!

The Exotic Garden at Great Dixter, August 2011Entrance is £7.50 and this also includes entry to the garden, which will no doubt still be looking lush and gorgeous in its late summer glory. Definitely worth the trip to East Sussex.

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Rubus ulmifolius bellidiflorus

I may have mentioned in earlier posts that I’ve developed a bit of a thing for the Rubus genus. I already grow raspberries (R. idaeus), Blackberries (R. fruiticosus) and Japanese wine berries (R. pheonicolasius) and in 2011 I spotted this rather gorgeous ornamental Rubus ulmifolius bellidiflorus in the Plant Heritage marquee at Hampton Court. The pink pom poms sitting atop such a wild habit truly spoke to me, but alas, the plants were just for looking at, with none to buy. However, not entirely forgotten, its image has been lurking somewhere deep in the back of my mind.

 Rubus oderatus
Roll on two years and Barry Clarke is back again with choice specimens from his national collection (of 170 species and 30 hybrids), this time with cuttings aplenty. Not only did he have pom poms, but also small plants of  Rubus x fraseri, very similar in habit (and flower) to this gorgeous R.oderatus above. It does produce small quantities of edible fruits, so I’ll look forward to tasting these whenever they appear.  Although determined to leave the show empty-handed this year (there’s no room left in the garden), I departed from the Plant Heritage marquee with my two plants in hand and my heart full of joy! Thanks Barry!
Matthew Childs' Ecover Garden
I loved Matthew Childs’ ‘A light at the end of the tunnel’ garden last year which was about recovery and hope after he was injured in the July 7th bombings. His planting this year on the Ecover sponsored garden was positively exuberant and deservedly won a gold medal and best in show. Flowing planting, winding paths and three interlocking ponds expertly illustrated the ‘Water is life’ message and with their supersized products, Ecover was none too shy in pointing out their role in sustainable use of plastics for their products!
Four corners garden
Water and wildlife friendly planting seem to feature in many gardens this year and I really liked how Peter Reader used rills to divide his garden into distinct areas in his Four Corners garden.
Four corners garden 2
Peter has just finished retraining from doctor to garden designer, and won the Provender Nurseries 2012 Student Design and Build Award to create his first show garden at Hampton Court. Impressive!
The hot stuff garden
And lastly (for this post), I loved the “less hard landscaping and more plants” ethos in The Hot Stuff Garden, designed by Victoria Truman, Liz Rentzsch and Marcus Foster.
The hot stuff garden 2
Taking inspiration from the planting in the Exotic Garden at Great Dixter, this simple but lush garden was, for me, equally best in show.
Hampton Court Flower Show continues today and tomorrow (13 and 14th July 2013).
More gardens and fab comments can be seen and read at Weeding the Web, Vegplotting , Alternative Eden and Through the Garden Gate.

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fter the fire 2

For me ‘Best in Show’ this year was the ‘After the fire’ garden in the Fresh Gardens category. There have been discussions, kicked off by Christopher Bradly-Hole, about the fairness of having such a term, as how can you compare gardens whose briefs are so different?  ‘Best in Show’ for me is simply the garden that excites me most and moves me and whose inspirational ideas and design will stay in my head for years to come.

I just loved the sculptural quality of this garden,

fter the fire 3

where the burnt gnarly sticks and the floppy Acacia dealbata trees and seedlings gave a loose and airy feel to the whole design,

After the fire Chelsea 2013

while it was grounded by mounds of myrtle, tree heathers (Erica arborea), lavenders, thyme and Asphodelus fistolosus (the perennial above with lovely delicate white flowers-seeds available from Chiltern Seeds). Designer James Basson of Scape Design lives and works in the South of France and his garden is based on how areas regenerate themselves after forest fires. Seeds were collected in the S. of France from some of the grasses and grown on for the show by Kelways, who also sourced and grew the rest of the plants for this garden. Dedication that really paid off.

Chris Beardshaw's exuberant planting at The Chelsea Flowers show 2013

I never really got the chance  to have a good look at Chris Beardshaw’s garden, as every time I wandered by, the area was roped off for filming. But snatched glimpses did reveal exuberant planting and joyful use of colour and textures.

Fruit and veg on Adam Frost's Homebase garden

Adam Frost’s garden for Homebase didn’t have the same high-octane appeal, but I loved seeing fruit and veg amongst the perennials. You could even pick enough rhubarb for a crumble without destroying the design!

Pleached Field Maple (Acer campestre) trees on the Brewin Dolphin garden

These pleached Field Maples (Acer campestre) were truly arresting on the Brewin Dolphin garden, where the Robert Myers concentrated on using native plants.

Quercus fastigiata ‘Koster’ on Ulf Nordfjell's Chelsea Garden 2013

And I loved these upright oaks (Quercus fastigiata ‘Koster’) in the Ulf Nordfjell garden too. Perfect for a small London Garden in need of a bit of height and drama!

Rosa Princess Anne on David Austin's stand

I always come away from Chelsea, and Hampton Court for that matter, feeling slightly overwhelmed and sure that I’ve missed a chunk of the show. This year I didn’t get to explore the floral marquee as much as I’d have liked to, but still, plenty of plants really caught my eye. This blousey double rose, Princess Anne from David Austin, is a gorgeous repeat flowerer,

Gertrude Jekyll and Tuscany superb roses

and the combo of Gertrude Jekyll and Tuscany Superb was also rather sumptuous. I was discussing my increasing interest in roses with another gardener after the show, and he said it was because I was getting older-and I think he may be right! Not quite sure why this is though-am I yearning to recreate some faux bucolic bliss or am I need of more colour and scent as the years fly by or is it just that my tastes are becoming more traditional (and conservative) ?

Maianthemum flexuosum from Crug Farm plants at Chelsea 2013

And my final pic of the post is of this lovely shade loving Maianthemum aff. flexuosum from Crug Farm plants. Know the perfect spot for this plant already.

If you’re having Chelsea withdrawal symptoms, don’t panic! There’s plenty more to see from The Chelsea Fringe which continues until June 9th. Here’s a list of great events happening this week all over London. And come and join us this Sunday 2nd June for tea and cake (and loads more) in Finsbury Park.

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