Highlights from RHS Hampton Court

The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2022 was fascinating in terms of its breadth and the scope of its exhibits. Everywhere you stopped to look was a story, a campaign, a message and food for thought.

Considering the current state of the planet, the world, the environment and politics, not to mention the pandemic, the very fact that there was a flower show at all is quite remarkable.

The gardens were magnificent, the plants were extraordinary and there was enough that was really new to satisfy the regular visitor. Here are a few highlights from this year’s show.

Floral Marquee

There is nothing quite like the Floral Marquee at RHS Hampton Court. It’s a journey into horticulture where every island of flowers, plants and foliage, is a bucket list of delights. Botanical rarities jostle for centre stage with new varieties, tried and tested stalwarts, each adorned with generous blushes of beauty, fragrance and drama. Every stand is the best of its type. Whatever your heart desires in terms of plants is on show within this amazing space. It’s the perfect chance to explore a plant family, learn about heritage varieties and fall in love with something new.

Floral Marquee Hampton Court 2022
The Floral Marquee is a fantastic place to indulge your love of plants. Image: Jean Vernon

The Sanctuary

Experience the healing power of plants and gardens at The Sanctuary, where you can listen to talks and engage with workshops.

Sanctuary Hampton Court 2022
Nature table. Image: Jean Vernon

Wildlife expert Kate Bradbury staged a nature table of tadpoles, owl pellets, animal skulls, branches, leaves and nuts for adults and children to see the beauty of nature. Or you can explore the power of alternative therapies inside the Sanctuary Yurt.

Ealing Allotments Partnership HC40

This small patch of ground was full of ideas and inspiration for growing. Titled Grow the Universe, it models a self-sufficient system inspired by the principles of permaculture. There’s a square metre forest garden with a central crab apple tree surrounded by layers of raspberries and strawberries. Raised beds incorporate watering holes and composting is actually done in-situ within the soil so that the nutrients and benefits are captured where they are needed the most, at root level. It’s all about highlighting food poverty, improving mental and physical well being and sustainable living. I loved it’s earthy feel and that every inch was planted with edibles and productive plants.

Ealing Allotments Hampton Court 2022
Allotments are spaces to share ideas, produce and time within the community. Image: Jean Vernon

River Cottage Market Garden

This was another RHS Feature Garden, but was all about edibles. It was packed with dramatic, beautiful and lush organic flowers, fruit and veg plants that are cultivated with a no-dig philosophy and where heritage varieties thrive and companion planting helps support healthy growth. Plants are vital, vibrant and dramatic. Curly kale and ornamental cabbages paint the borders. A small glasshouse full of tender edibles takes centre stage. It’s a lovely example of grow your own that looks great and provides essential ingredients to feed the family.

River Cottage Hampton Court 2022
The River Cottage Garden is packed with flowers, fruit and vegetables. Image: Jean Vernon

Biodiversity on trend

The importance of supporting our garden biodiversity was a hot topic at this year’s show. The RHS itself is championing pollinators, which is fantastic news. And the gardens were alive with local, wild pollinators feeding on the sudden arrival of nectar and pollen rich flowers. #Knollingwithdaisies was one garden that was particularly created with pollinators in mind. Sue Kent was keen to ensure that she portrayed the correct advice and information about supporting precious pollinators. Daisies in particular are great landing pads for all sorts of species, but the garden also included several other pollinator buffets like agastache. I was delighted to find a Green-Eyed Flower Bee (Anthophora bimaculata) feeding on the nectar rich agastache. Fabulous.

Green Eyed Bee Hampton Court 2022
The fabulous Green Eyed Flower Bee. Image: Jean Vernon

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