Five Powerful Messages from Hampton Court

Show gardens are designed to dazzle, inspire or provoke thought, and this year, at Hampton Court 2017 there is plenty of thought-provoking content, finds Jean Vernon.

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Elements of Life (stand 781)

Designer Bill Wilder

Elements of Life

This Conceptual Garden reminded me of the fabulous sky gardens in the film Avatar. It’s quite a feat of engineering with a huge water tank supporting a vast clod of roots, soil and pomegranate tree, underplanted with perennials. It’s such a dramatic display you can’t help to want to learn more about the codes and symbols on the stainless steel stand, each the name of an element, an essential micronutrient for plant life and a mix that represents the content of a healthy soil. The bubbling water mirrors the exchange of elements in the plants’ roots and reflects the importance of a good balance of minerals and a healthy soil. Fascinating. 

Not for Sale (stand 783)

Designers: Mark Whyte & Sharmayne Ferguson

Not for Sale

The impact of this Conceptual Garden is quite disturbing. It draws attention to the horrendous trade in Iiory and the resulting, massive loss of life. Its shocking message highlights the number of elephants killed each day in Africa by poachers. Each one of the ribs in the archway of tusks represents one of these precious creatures lost. It’s an alarming sight. The African savannah inspired garden is the resting place for the remnants of a fallen elephant, its skull and ribs a silent reminder of the plight of these amazing creatures. The message is crystal clear, unless we do something, elephants will be the next extinct species, another statistic and another tragedy attributable to man: Food for thought indeed.

The Power to Make a Difference (stand 786)

Designer: Joe Francis

The Power to Make a Difference

This is another thought provoking space, showcasing the destructive aspect of humankind, but with a message of hope. The outer perimeter is full of neglected rubble, a neglected and abused wasteland of detritus seasoned with rotting tree trunks. A hunk of ice in the centre is gradually melting to represent climate change and the melting icecaps. But at the centre is an oasis of hope with wildlife friendly plants and habitats for wildlife. The message is simple, we can all make a difference and even a small effort makes a massive effect when considered cumulatively. It’s easy to feel hopeless, but there are simple things that we can all do that add up to something much bigger.

I particularly love the crazy paving path that leads from the wasteland to the wildlife area. As it reaches the oasis it is mortared with gold. It represents an ancient Japanese Art called Kintsugi or golden repair, a technique used to repair broken things with gold that make it more beautiful because it has been broken. It’s a moving message of hope and positivity.

Brownfield – Metamorphosis (stand 651)

Designer: Martyn Wilson

Brownfield – Metamorphosis

When it comes to wildlife you might be surprised to learn that it is often the neglected brownfield sites that are rich in rare species. This garden, inspired by the Landschaftpark, Duisburg-Nord, Germany and the High Line, New York, USA, explores the legacy of our post industrial heritage and the fascinating processes and aesthetics of regeneration. Sculptural architectural debris, in the form of huge rusted iron girders and artifacts represent Britain’s industrial age, now crumbling into history as our manufacturing industries become redundant. And yet around this industrial graveyard, the land is regenerating naturally, tree seedlings are growing into mature specimens and wildflowers are self-seeding and creating a very valuable, unique rich and varied habitat for wildlife. 

Streetscape’s Holding Back the Flood (stand 785)

Designer Will Williams

Streetscape’s Holding Back the Flood

The Brits are rather obsessed with the weather, but it’s no surprise given the crazy weather patterns that we usually see. And for gardeners it’s the weather that makes every gardening year memorable and different. Holding back the flood shows how landscape and planting can be used to slow drainage water and alleviate flooding. It’s an fabulous alternative to huge concrete barriers and is being used on the Yorkshire Moors where thousands of alder trees have been planted with leaky landscape dams to show the flow, it follows the almost lost and largely disregarded, centuries old wisdom and creates a magical silent landscape that is making headway in flood control.

Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
@TheGreenJeanie
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