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Hampton Court Flower Show 2014 Preview

Georgina Chahed is a designer working for Touch Landscapes and a garden writer who pens articles about all things horticultural. She loves nothing more than unearthing trends and visiting exceptional gardens around the world. Ahead of the show this week, she takes a sneaky peek at the gardens at the Hampton Court Flower Show.

Set against the magnificent backdrop of the palace to which it owes its name, the Hampton Court Flower Show celebrates gardening on a grand scale. With designers showcasing conceptual gardens, show gardens, summer gardens, and designs restricted to specific budgets; there will truly be something for everyone this week. Having completed my own analysis during show build up, here’s my round up of must-sees at the Hampton Court Flower Show this year.

Up and coming

Top designers such as Andy Sturgeon and Cleve West cut their teeth at this show many years ago, and today it continues to incubate some of the UK’s brightest design stars. Jointly spearheading a competition with The One Show in the spring, the Royal Horticultural Society challenged amateur gardeners and aspiring designers to design a garden which celebrated their local environment.

Inspired by the city of Bath, the foundations of the nine reflective pools of architecture student Alex Noble’s winning design were already in place towards the end of last week. These square vessels emulate Bath Spa’s Roman underfloor heating system and will be complemented with soft grasses and a raised walkway on two sides. You will be able to see ‘The One Show Garden’ for yourself if you hot foot it over to the Escape zone at the show.

And for those looking to escape life’s daily stresses and strains, for his second garden at the show, Peter Reader will be celebrating the exuberance of outdoor living with his garden entitled ‘Al Fresco’. Certain to be a hit with visitors, Peter’s calm oasis includes gnarled olive trees for dappled shade, a pergola, a log burning stove, pool and outdoor kitchen. I for one was particularly looking forward to seeing the pool once the garden was finished. Fancy a dip anyone?

Also back for the second time, Rachel Parker Soden’s conceptual garden, ‘Lust’, explores the relationship between the beauty of plants and the primary function of flowers, which is to reproduce. Breaking the rules of conventional garden design, Rachel’s enigmatic design features a brightly lit greenhouse showcasing a sumptuous blood red chaise longue heaving with irises and a canal engulfed by provocative plants. The entire garden is punctuated by reclaimed steel bollards and surrounded by six magnificent lime trees. One of my favourite designs this year; I love the way Rachel has blurred the boundaries between design and art, reminding show-goers that their garden doesn’t have to be restricted to what’s available from their local garden centre. It can be anything they want it to be.

Something for everyone

Of course for many, low-maintenance, privacy and screening is a must when deciding what they want in their outdoor space, particularly for owners of small urban gardens. And these are the guiding principles behind Chew Valley Trees’ ‘Green is the Colour’ garden. If you feel comforted by the shelter and protection of a natural woodland environment, you’ll love this garden. Inspired by the magical forests of eastern Canada, the spirit of this landscape has been captured to create a secluded place of reflection. The planting scheme combines restful shades of green foliage, while densely planted evergreen trees form a textural backdrop to the garden.

Do you prefer the outback to the woodland? Then look no further than the hotly anticipated Australian garden ‘Essence of Australia’ from veteran multiple Chelsea award-winning landscape designer Jim Fogarty.  This tropical wonderland celebrates Australian plants and contemporary design as seen at the 15-hectare Australian garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. Look out for the native Australian plants that can be grown in the UK in a garden which celebrates the gardening landscapes of Victoria and the Northern Territory.

If you’re planning to head to the Hampton Court Flower Show next week, don’t forget to put a few hours aside to sample the vast selection of stalls, hands-on kiosks and colourful, interactive installations on offer. With abundant shopping and educational experiences and a fine selection of gardens, you’ll be in for a treat.

Credit for all images belongs to Touch Landscapes.

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