I was delighted to be able to attend the first RHS Garden Festival since 2019, at Hampton Court Palace. As with so many, it has been a turbulent couple of years for the thousands of people involved in delivering the RHS shows. So much time and effort goes into the magnificent displays; it must have been incredibly challenging to arrange, rearrange, cancel and then finally put on this show.
I was invited to attend the press day, when the excitement was still building and finishing touches were being made to many of the intriguing tradestands that packed out this years’ show. Given all the uncertainty of the last few years I wasn’t surprised to see a few less show gardens than other years. However, the RHS had cleverly introduced a new category of garden; the Get Started Gardens, which were perfect for those with a small outdoor spaces, who had discovered gardening during lockdown. Charlie’s’ Courtyard, one of the beautiful gardens in category, was designed by Jane Scott Moncrieff as an imaginary garden for her daughter’s first London home and was packed full of simple, easy to grow, perennial plants.
The Global Impact Garden category returned for its second show, to convey hard-hitting messages and topical themes. The most striking of these was Felicity O’Rourke’s garden, which addressed the 6th Mass Extinction threat to the planet, caused by exploitation and destruction of natural resources and ancient ecosystems. As sun shone on Hampton court, and visitors began to enjoy their freedoms again, this provocative garden grabbed everyone’s attention with a crashed Homo sapiens airliner at its centre, reminding us all of the global battles still to be fought.
The RHS Allotment displays were blooming; a tribute to all those who found solace in their allotments during lockdown. The RHS Schools Competition theme this year was ‘Its a Wild World’ and aimed at encouraging wildlife and recycling everyday materials. It was a delight to see infant school children admiring their own inventive bug hotels and wild flower planting. Beyond the Schools’ Gardens, was a Forest School which visiting children could enjoy studying mini beasts, build dens, forage and explore plant life. Presenter and frog-life expert Kate Bradbury was also on hand, to introduce children to the art of pond dipping.
The show itself had a packed schedule of guest speakers, covering all aspects for gardening from cut flowers to cooking with garden produce. The three stages at the show played host to live music and there were delicious looking food and drink outlets wherever you looked. As I tore myself away from the show, the preview evening was about to begin. It was wonderful to see so many happy people about to enjoy an evening with friends in the beautiful surroundings of Hampton court Palace Gardens and the wonderful RHS show.
Returning to RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival reminded me of the many times I enjoyed visiting with my youngest daughter before she started school. I would still recommend the show as a delightful place to spend time with your children, who can enter for free.
Lucy received a complimentary press pass to RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, but all her opinions are her own.