The Hampton Court Palace Flower show is the world’s biggest annual Flower Show and this year it took place between the 5th and the 10th July. Held in the grand setting of Hampton Court Palace near Richmond upon Thames, the grounds encapsulate the stunning formal gardens designed by Capability Brown and the renowned maze.
The show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their judges reward the top show gardens and floral exhibits on the first day of the show. They award a ‘best’ in each category and then there are four medals available ranging from gold through to bronze. If you are a keen gardener or just a flower fanatic, this is not an event to be missed.
Every year there is a range of show gardens judged at Hampton Court including water, summer, city, world and conceptual gardens amongst others. The conceptual gardens are always a massive hit as the public loves to view the creativity on display. The Hythe Garden Landscape entry proved popular this year as it featured a giant wooden wave. It was also interactive as visitors were asked to write memories directly onto the wave, bringing out the correlation between waves crashing on the sand and the passing of time.
Other conceptual gardens raised awareness for a variety of issues including depression and cancer. There was also a garden sponsored by The Dog’s Trust which hoped to increase interest in dog rescue. The best garden in the conceptual category was judged to be The Border Control Garden which was sponsored by UNHCR. This set out to highlight the plight of refugees and draw attention to the risks many of them undertake to find shelter.
There are two main marquees at the Hampton Court Flower Show – one which showcases a wide variety of blooms and one which focuses solely on roses. A marquee dedicated to roses is unusual at flower shows and thus this display always proves popular. Every year, new roses are introduced and there is an overall ‘best in show’ chosen. This year the best rose exhibit went to ‘Peter Beales’ Roses’.
Visitors to the flower show were in for an extra treat this year as there was the addition of the Butterfly Dome. This was filled with exotic butterflies from Indonesia and South America, you could wander amongst the plants and admire the beauty of the butterflies. In addition, the area surrounding the dome was planted with meadow flowers designed to attract our own native butterfly species.
Celebrity gardeners were out in force at Hampton Court with Monty Don presenting the main show for the BBC. In addition, several theatre demonstrations took place where renowned experts talked about their specialist topics and took questions from the audience. On Saturday it was a family day with lots of kids’ activities on offer including a cookery class and even a space themed scarecrow competition. Throughout the show, there was the opportunity for all visitors to shop, learn about gardening, listen to music and admire the flowers.
Another highlight of the Hampton Court Flower Show is the food and drink on offer. There are Champagne & Seafood Restaurants if you prefer something more formal, or you can browse the array of food courts where a vast array of savoury and sweet delights are on offer. Hog roasts, fish and chips, fresh produce including strawberries and cakes and pastries are all available from a wide range of suppliers.
The show is easily accessible by road from the M25 or directly from central London. There is plenty of parking available at the two large car parks, although each will cost £15 per day. If you prefer to travel by train head to Hampton Court station from Waterloo, which is approximately a 30 minute journey by rail. If you want to make a real feature of your visit next year, why not experience the event from the air with a private helicopter charter before landing in style. If you want to enjoy a glass or two of champagne you need not worry as you will travel home with equal flair.
As you can see there was plenty on offer at the Hampton Court Flower Show this year and they have just as much planned, if not more, for next year. One way to make it extra special is to attend the Preview Show, and tickets for the 2017 event are already on sale. If you are lucky enough to attend, you will be one of the first to see the show. Additionally, you can enjoy fine dining to live music and fireworks. It’s best to book early if you don’t want to miss this event, as it always proves a popular outing.