I was lucky enough to visit the Hampton Court Flower Show on Monday. A wonderful visit made after a gap of several years with a New Zealand friend. I hadn’t really briefed her about what to expect from the Show. It made me realise that, of course, it’s not all about plants, flowers and vegetables. It covers all those other issues that are important to gardens and gardeners, such as sustainability, design and, most importantly, wildlife.
Plants for pollinators and homes for wildlife were two key themes of the Show. My favourite garden was the Bee Garden designed by Rachel Parker Soden demonstrating how you can entice honey and solitary bees into your garden by planting nectar and pollen rich plants, such as borage and oxeye daisies. The garden was the size of a small suburban garden yet was versatile, beautifully planted with a chic, vintage feel. Most importantly it combined this design with plenty of homes for those solitary bees and other insects.
The ‘Bugs in Boot’s’ garden designed by Caspian Robertson aims to create an ecological space for insects, birds and other wildlife, recognising extreme weather conditions we are now experiencing and the impact they have on wildlife. The centre of the Bugs in Boots garden is designed to flood in heavy rainfall before slowly releasing the water into the soil. This was another garden planted with nectar and pollen rich plants and as you can see it looked beautiful.
With so many flowers at the Show it wasn’t just the gardens that were buzzing. The floral marquee had its fair share of insect life. There were however some plants they may wish to have avoided. We spent an anxious couple of minutes watching a bee sit on top of one of these pitchers plants dusting itself off with pollen. It was however steady enough not to take a downwards slide and we were able to breathe sigh of relief when it flew off. Not too sure what we would have done if things had turned out differently!
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was publicising it current campaign to give all nature a home, not just the birds. What frog wouldn’t want to live in hotel?
There was also a bird feature in the Show, with a few chickens clucking around the celebrity hen houses. It was one of many fun aspects of the show, especially if you have a couple of kids in tow. You can even make a bid for them, the hen houses that is. I loved the one designed by Kate Humble. Not just a hen house, but a ‘meal in one’ house. The rhyme on another house really made me smile. It’s an hen’s life.
If you missed the show there is coverage on the BBC and the RHS’s websites. There was so much to see there will be more posts from me about the Show. You may also like to see a recent post I wrote about creating a bee-friendly garden.