The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is a spectacle of all that is great in gardening. With more than 500 exhibitors and a staggering 42 show gardens there is plenty to fill your day, but don’t miss the finer details of the show that you might overlook. Here are five things well worth a look at this year’s show.
1 The Scarecrows
Just alongside the Floral Marquee at the North end of the showground there are some pretty amazing scarecrows on display. But this year the theme is Rocket Science and the scarecrows, built by schools signed up to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening in the London and Home Counties, are inspired by Tim Peake’s voyage into space. There are over 60 astronaut, alien and mad scientist inspired scarecrows on display, all from the vivid imaginations of the children from the schools. What an amazing and inspiring feature at the show.
2 Plant Heritage
We often take plants for granted, but many are endangered, rare or lost to cultivation, and others hail from such far and distant shores we forget their heritage and origins. Every year at Hampton Court there is a fabulous display of National Plant Collections, where you can study some of the members of a plant family and scrutinize the differences. This year they are housed within the Floral Marquee. Don’t miss the miniature hostas, rubus, echiums and fuchsia displays where you can learn about the plant families, talk to the collection holders and buy plants too.
3 Floral Marquee
I have to say that I think the displays in the Floral Marquee this year were better than I have ever seen them. I was privileged to see this centre of horticultural excellence just after dawn on Press Day and I had it to myself. The light was fantastic, but the effort and dedication that has gone into every single exhibit was quite humbling. There are almost one hundred exhibits and I defy anyone to spend an hour or two in there are not be mesmerised by something new. It’s a pick and mix selection box for plant lovers and I suggest you bring lots of bags and lots of cash to indulge your passion for plants as you really won’t go home empty handed.
4 Festival of Roses
It’s the scent and fragrance that hits you before you approach the rose marquee. It’s simply packed full of rises of every hue, habit and scent. It’s now at the heart of the flower show and offers visitors the chance to chat with the experts, see the roses in the flesh, buy the plants and visit the theatre to hear rose experts extol the virtues of these fabulous garden plants.
5 Butterfly Dome
I nearly missed the Butterfly Dome, it’s right at the far end of the showground (near the Thames Gate) and if I am honest, I wasn’t sure it was my kind of thing. I’m a big fan of nature and wildlife and I like to see it out in the wild. But I have to say I found the whole experience quite fascinating. This tropical dome is filled with exotic butterflies from South America and Indonesia and it’s filled with the food plants that they love to eat. It’s very much an educational exhibit showing visitors the lifecycle of these precious creatures. It was a very animated experience as these sentient creatures fly around and virtually through the visitors. Each one is a flash of colour and movement and it reminded me of the fairies at the bottom of the garden. It was real hit with the children who shared my dome experience and I think it could just be one of the stars of the show.