10 ideas to take home from the show
Sally Nex picks her top inspirational ideas from Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2009.
A jewel of an idea
Sparkling with colour amid gentle waves of grass, Philippa Pearson's sublime planting in the Sadolin Nature to Nurture Garden bridges the divide between meadow and perennial border. Known as 'jewel' planting, this style deliberately avoids blending colours: in Philippa's scheme white Lilium regale is placed next to purple bobbles of Allium sphaerocephalon, orange Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' and steely blue Eryngium 'Jos Eijking'. The flowers are all borne at similar heights, glinting in the sunlight like a treasure-chest of gems.
Designer Nicola Hill uses handsome veg in just the same way as ornamental plants in 'A Beekeeper's Garden': vibrant purple kale 'Redbor' is an architectural focal point and both red and green 'Salad Bowl' lettuces make a pretty edging to the flowerbeds. Even the lovely wrought-iron arched pergola leading into the garden is hung with gourds and climbing beans for you to pluck as you walk through.
One gardener's junk...
...is another gardener's designer path. The Year 6 students from the St John the Divine Church of England Primary School in southeast London smashed up old bricks to make theirs, and added stepping stones made out of tyres filled with turf. Their quirky and imaginative approach in their small garden 'I Promise', in the Sustainable Gardens category, doesn't stop there: best of all, they've used the slot of an old wall-mounted postbox as a waterfall.
It's a moat point
Kathryn Hibberd uses the stream running across the front of her small garden 'Teenage Sanctuary' to make a secluded space where even a 17-year-old could feel they had enough privacy. A moat marks boundaries without intrusive barriers like fences: if you make the 'drawbridge' out of wrought-iron like Kathryn's you'll also see the water bubbling away underneath (though you might not want to paint yours bright orange). There's another moat over at Sustainable Garden 'The Rain Chain', where designer Wendy Allen bridges a dry riverbed with railway girders, lining it with pebbles and filling it full of vibrantly architectural plants.
One of the loveliest plant combinations in the show is ethereal planting in Tracy Foster's small garden 'Jane Seymour', for the Six Wives of Henry VIII series. Within an edging of Lavandula 'Hidcote' pale mauve clematis and a strand of white sweetpea twine gracefully around obelisks, a carpet of silvery grey at their feet: Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver Queen' combines with white Centranthus 'Alba' and the nodding flowers of Cosmos 'Sonata White', with a splash of palest blue-mauve from Campanula lactiflora 'Loddon Anna' to set it all off perfectly. It’s romantic, pretty and very, very feminine.
Give your garden a little history
Yvonne Mathews has brought a garden feature straight out of the history books back to life in her small garden 'Catherine Parr', also in the Six Wives series. Turf seats were popular in mediaeval times, and used grass - here replaced with lower-maintenance chamomile - on top of a wall like a cushion. It may be old-fashioned, but it's also comfortable and rather elegant.
The Palm Centre has an intriguing new addition to its collection of the hardy palm, trachycarpus, in the Floral Marquee. Owner Toby Shobbrook describes Trachycarpus 'Naggy' as a 'collector's palm': he bred it himself from the dwarf T. nanus and popular architectural palm Trachycarpus wagnerianus. It's likely to grow to about 2.5m and produces its graceful, fan-like leaves from the base.
If you've never had enough room for a pond, but have always wanted one, Waterside Nurseries in the Floral Marquee has the ideal solution: chic coppery containers, filled with delectable combinations of water-loving plants. Try recreating the full mini-pond, planted with vivid pink miniature waterlilies and marginal plants like dainty white Butomus umbellatus 'Schneeweisschen', or simply plant a small shallow bowl with a single floating fern, Salvinia natans, for a minimalist water garden you can fit on a table.
Coming up roses
Seale Nurseries have filled windowboxes with roses until they spill over the sides for their pretty rose-filled garden in the Tudor Rose Festival marquee, a great idea if you haven't much space for growing the nation's favourite flower. For maximum impact they've used just one variety of groundcover rose in each - Rosa 'Suffolk' is a pure, vibrant red that works particularly well - and clipped box cubes at each end, also in containers, lend the whole thing an elegant structure.
Say it with flowers
Amid the elegant swirls of orchids and phormium leaves in the Floral Energy Studio is something that's sure to cheer you up: a cup of tea from leading British floral designer Jane Packer. This one, though, is poured from a giant teapot made entirely of pink chrysanthemums. There's a tasty-looking Victoria sponge, also created from flowers, and even some tea-cakes made of roses. You can’t help thinking the Mad Hatter would feel quite at home.
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