Delve into the week's top stories at Hampton Court from the show's winners to the pigs in the pavilion.
This year about 50 show garden designers, 80 nurseries and growers, and dozens of rose breeders, to say nothing of the floral artists, National Collection holders and countless other exhibitors, are doing what they do best at the biggest flower show in the world.
Designer Chris Beardshaw has won a gold medal and Best in Show at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show for The Growing Schools Garden.
The garden is a multi-sensory celebration of the role of gardening in education, and involved over 500 pupils from more than 30 schools. It includes wetland and woodland habitats, a stumpery and poetry garden, as well as a wealth of detail: gabions are filled with rocks from all over England to create a geological map of the country, and a vegetable garden contains 25 types of fruit.
Six of the 20 large show gardens were awarded a gold medal at the show. Best Water Garden, and a gold medal, was awarded to View Across the Water, a garden using topiary to create a clever optical illusion of distant hills, and Best Small Garden was Learning to Look After Our World, designed by ten 7-year-olds from Alton Infant School.
In the floral marquees, nearly half the exhibitors were awarded gold, with the Tudor Rose Award for best exhibit going to Jekka’s Herb Farm, and the award for Most Creative Exhibit going to South West Carnivorous Plants.
A walk on the wild side
In the show gardens, you might be forgiven for thinking designers had thrown out the rule book. Anything goes this year: whether it’s vegetables among the flowers, clumps of weeds and heaps of rubbish, or even an up-ended classic car sprouting grass and ferns, there‘s something distinctly wild and woolly in the air.
"A show garden doesn’t just have to be about banks of beautiful flowers", says Moya O’Hara, co-designer of the small garden Wildlife Garden in a Skip for the Royal Parks, complete with old bath and sink. "It can also include some important messages for people, and perhaps be a bit funky and a bit different and a bit fun."
The beauty of wildflowers is celebrated in several gardens, from cornfield seeded with poppies and cornflowers in The Miller's Garden, to the sombre reminder from conceptual garden The Fallen that many wildflower varieties have been lost altogether.
Original ideas abound: look out for the “green wall” made of vertical planting in Alistair Kirt Bayford’s small garden, 23 Paved Green Terrace, and the planting of ferns and other shade-lovers underneath the metal grid path in Full Frontal, another front garden-inspired design from Hadlow College.
Both these gardens offer real solutions to the problem of making a garden that’s both environmentally-friendly and practical. Elsewhere in the show, too, there are some ingenious demonstrations that green gardens can also be cutting-edge. Infinity, a water garden designed by Oliver and Liat Schumann, is actually a swimming pond - where water is filtered naturally through a reedbed so you can swim in it without needing to add chemicals. Its concentric rings offer one of the more uncompromisingly modern designs in the show.
If it’s all too much for you and you’re craving some old-fashioned perfection, there’s plenty to please with some truly romantic gardens. Croft Spot Passion, designed by David Domoney, is a classically styled riot of roses whose perfume reaches far beyond the borders of the show garden, while A Midsummer Nights’ Dream, designed by Nigel Boardman and Stephen Gelly, is a little bit of paradise with its cottage garden-style planting and stone folly dripping with creepers.