Janna SchreierReview: Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016

It may not have the glamour of its sister Royal Horticultural Society show – Chelsea – but the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show certainly makes up for it in other ways. Covering some 14 hectares (34 acres), it is three times the size of Chelsea and boasts an incredible 47 show gardens and over 500 exhibitors, making it the largest flower show in the world.

Hampton Court Palace: The setting for the largest garden show in the world. Photo by Janna Schreier

Hampton Court Palace: The setting for the largest garden show in the world. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

But size isn’t all that it’s about. Suggesting just a little in-house competition, Hampton Court Place Show Manager, Dave Green, explains that the high level of accessibility to the gardens makes it more fun, relaxed and engaging than Chelsea. For, here, you can walk into many of the gardens, get up close to the plants, engage with them on a sensory level and become quite immersed in them; the spaciousness of the grounds also affecting the pace and feel of the show.

Visitors are encouraged to walk into many of the show gardens. Best Show Garden 2016: The WWT Working Wetlands Garden supported by the HSBC and designed by Jeni Cairns .Photo by Janna Schreier

Visitors are encouraged to walk into many of the show gardens. Best Show Garden 2016: The WWT Working Wetlands Garden supported by the HSBC and designed by Jeni Cairns. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

As well as the show gardens, this year features a 283 square metre butterfly dome, with thousands of brightly coloured Indonesian and Belizean butterflies set amongst lush, tropical plantings. Hundreds of school children queue to see butterflies emerging from their cocoons in the puparium, squealing with delight as butterflies land on them inside their newly created, hot and humid habitat. Immediately outside the dome, native wildflower meadows have been planted with nectar-rich species from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list, which Green hopes will inspire visitors to make their own gardens more wildlife friendly and halt the decline of Britain’s butterfly population.

The tropical Butterfly Dome hosts thousands of butterflies, including these colourful Morpho peleides (blue morpho). Photo by Janna Schreier

The tropical Butterfly Dome hosts thousands of butterflies, including these colourful Morpho peleides (blue morpho). Photo by Janna Schreier

 

Alongside the 6,750 square metre Floral Marquee and Plant Village, the Festival of Roses Marquee brings colour and scent this year to the theme of Beatrix Potter’s garden, marking the 150th year since her birth. The 300th anniversary of landscape architect and Hampton Court Head Gardener, ‘Capability’ Brown, is also celebrated with three themed gardens in his honour and a new show garden category, ‘City Gardens’ has been introduced to show big ideas for small spaces, just 6 by 4 metres each.

Best City Garden: The Drought Garden by Steve Dimmock uses many Mediterranean plants in a garden designed with global warming in mind. Photo by Janna Schreier

Best City Garden: The Drought Garden by Steve Dimmock uses many Mediterranean plants in a garden designed with global warming in mind. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

The Royal Horticultural Society is always seeking to turn young fingers green and a Scarecrow competition and range of Rocket Science-themed children’s activities promote this endeavour. This year the show also features four gardens by amateur gardeners, who entered a competition to “design a front garden which makes you feel good about the area in which you live”. Mentored by two Chelsea designers, these gardens were outstanding and the energy of the competition winners will undoubtedly inspire many visitors.

62 space-themed scarecrows have been designed and created by local school children. Photo by Janna Schreier

62 space-themed scarecrows have been designed and created by local school children. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

The large Show Gardens always attract big crowds, with well-known designers such as Catherine McDonald and Paul Hervey-Brookes exhibiting this year. Green described a continuing trend for more natural and ecological planting, with many wetland habitats and meadow plantings on display. Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer won Best Summer Garden – a category designed to show smaller, more achievable gardens – with their ‘Garden for Crohns Disease’, which included many Australian plants, from tree ferns to Westringia and Plectranthus to Acacia, with foliage the focus over flowers.

Best Summer Garden: 'Garden for Crohn's Disease' by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer combines many Australian natives. Photo by Janna Schreier

Best Summer Garden: ‘Garden for Crohn’s Disease’ by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer combines many Australian natives. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

The Conceptual Garden category is designed to creatively explore challenging topics and the Best in Show went to the UNHCR ‘Border Controll’ Garden, by Tom Massey and John Ward. Massey and Ward describe being inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis last year and want their safe, harmonious inner area, which contrasts with the struggling plants beyond the barbed wire, to prompt visitors to consider their views on this issue.

Best Conceptual Garden: UNHCR 'Border Control' Garden by Tom Massey and John Ward consists of a lush, wildflower meadow surrounded by a barbed-wire fence with plants struggling to survive in the rubble beyond. Photo by Janna Schreier

Best Conceptual Garden: UNHCR ‘Border Control’ Garden by Tom Massey and John Ward consists of a lush, wildflower meadow surrounded by a barbed-wire fence with plants struggling to survive in the rubble beyond. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

Finally, the six World gardens, representing Latin America, North America, Spain and France featured a wide range of planting styles, from the tropical bananas and bromeliads of the Inca Trail to the dry, arid Achillea and cycads of Austin, Texas.

World Garden: Journey Latin America's Inca Garden by Jennifer Jones included crops traditionally grown on the Inca Trail. Photo by Janna Schreier

World Garden: Journey Latin America’s Inca Garden by Jennifer Jones included crops traditionally grown on the Inca Trail. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

If you are looking for the absolute pinnacle in garden design excellence, then Chelsea is your show. But if you are looking for a relaxing day out, with more garden ideas than you could possibly wish for, set amongst acres of world-class, beautiful displays, Hampton Court Palace is the place for you. The 2017 show is from 4-9 July, possibly the best week of the year for the UK’s weather, natural beauty and peak flowering season, so if you can’t make it this year, perhaps there’s a 2017 ticket with your name on?

Gold medal-winning 'Squire's 80th Anniversary Garden' by Catherine MacDonald features exquisite planting. Photo by Janna Schreier

Gold medal-winning ‘Squire’s 80th Anniversary Garden’ by Catherine MacDonald features exquisite planting. Photo by Janna Schreier

The stunning setting on the River Thames for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Photo by Janna Schreier

The stunning setting on the River Thames for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Photo by Janna Schreier

The theme for the 2016 Floral Design Studio was 'Rio', tying in with this year's Olympic Games. Photo by Janna Schreier

The theme for the 2016 Floral Design Studio was ‘Rio’, tying in with this year’s Olympic Games. Photo by Janna Schreier

 

 

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Janna Schreier

About Janna Schreier

Garden designer, writer, and blogger, Janna has designed and created hundreds of gardens across the three countries she has called home—the UK, Australia and Malaysia. Currently based in London, she loves to travel and explore gardens all over the world. Her passion is to capture beautiful garden images wherever she goes and evaluate what it is, precisely, that makes each garden work so well. She uses this knowledge in designs for her clients and in her aim to enthuse all whose paths she crosses on the wonderful, vast and diverse merits of gardening. You can find Janna’s blog at Janna Schreier

2 thoughts on “Review: Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016

  1. Adriana on said:

    Lovely to see you are still writing for gardendrum Janna! Sounds like my kind of garden show.

    • Yes, you can’t keep me away! In fact I was talking to Andrew Fisher Tomlin, who designed the ‘Garden for Crohn’s Disease’ at Hampton and he was telling me he was coming out to Australia for the Sydney show again next year. It’s lovely when the world feels small!

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