Elephant Garlic

Garlic Glory

the Hampton Court Flower Show

The joy of planning a trip to the Hampton Court Flower Show is just that, no need to plan. Ticket purchase, is a relaxed affair, without the months-ahead-or-be-sorry Chelsea style booking procedure. Tickets can be purchased throughout the show week, providing ample flexibility, either online, by phone or at the gate. My only condition; it had to be a week day, to avoid the larger drum of the weekend crowds. Annoyingly, yet oddly liberating, I forgot my camera. Apologies therefore, for the lack of show photographs and for the poor quality of the couple taken with my mobile.

It may anger many, but personally speaking, the show gardens at Hampton Court are never the main attraction. I attend the Hampton Court Flower Show to meet the nurseries and plants people, exhibiting at the show. The sheer scale of Hampton Court and presumably consequent, friendlier-than-Chelsea exhibition fees, seems to attract relatively more nurseries than Chelsea. Consequently, one has the opportunity to speak to, not just to the high number of nurseries, but also to meet the very large, to the very small nurseries. The latter of which, one may otherwise never come across.

Having said that, the show gardens that I did see en route, had lovely soft planting schemes, particularly, The Stockman’s Retreat, The I am, because of who we are garden and The Copella Plant and Protect Garden. The latter may have been swayed by the kind donation of one of their delicious natural beverages, despite their rather daunting affiliation to the mega giant, Pepsico. Admittedly, I have never been too keen on the conceptual garden ‘gimmicks’, too frequently seen at the show. The Bright idea for example, may seem ‘bright’ to the Phillips sponsor, though admittedly ‘not so bright’ to me. Probably just me though…

The sheer scale of the Hampton Court grounds, allows for numerous additional attractions, such as the themed areas. Here one can delight, as I did, in such areas as Grow Your Own, Rose and the Plant Heritage Marquee. All crammed with super knowledgeable plant experts and lovely displays. Not forgetting my regular favourites, all with beautiful displays; Jekka’s Herb Farm, Bowden Hostas and Perryhill Nurseries.

Gold Award winning Garlic Farm Hampton Court
Loveliest display by deservedly Gold Award winning Garlic Farm
Loveliest display of the show by the deservedly Gold Award winning Garlic Farm
Loveliest display by the deservedly Gold Award winning Garlic Farm
Cenolophium Denudatum in the lovely Garlic Farm display
Cenolophium Denudatum in Garlic Farm display
Much cherished Elephant Garlic in Kitchen Garden
Much cherished Elephant Garlic in Kitchen Garden
Elephant Garlic
Elephant Garlic

As the photo’s suggest, the Garlic Farm caught my eye. They outdid themselves (and other exhibitors) this year, with their stunning ‘wild flower’ style garden display, studded with my personal favourite, Elephant Garlic. My first cloves came from the Garlic Farm, purchased at the Hampton Court Flower show, many years ago. Much cherished, though admittedly even more for their flowers, than the bulb.

Commercially speaking, Hampton Court Flower Show, has to be the place for garden shopping. I therefore had no qualms to indulge in some seriously shameless shopping, around the various designated marquees. Apart from the dizzying mass of lovely plants for sale and the sincerely scrummy Jalapeno wafers at Fudges, my favourite find has to be Niwaki. Never having come across them before, Niwaki have a tantalising array of some seriously sexy Japanese secateurs, clippers, garden scissors and ladders. As Japanese knives are much loved in our household, the concept of razor sharp Japanese secateurs is very appealing indeed. Foolish not to buy one on the spot, but guilt flashes of our numerous, somewhat unloved, collection of Felco’s, prevented the purchase. Though surely, the recent episode of Gardeners’ World, confirmed my right of purchase. During Rachel (thank-goodness-my-husband-wasn’t-watching) de Thame’s report on shrub pruning, the Garden Manager, Hardy Ornamentals at RHS Wisley; Annette Dalton, was expertly, brandishing a pair of the Niwaki secateurs. This can only be described as divine intervention…

Despite the fact that the layout of the show is always somewhat muddled, no public show maps in sight and annual overdose of wind chime purveyors, the stunning setting of Hampton Court Palace makes up for it. Thoroughly enjoyed the show, and thanks to the dizzying array of seriously clever plant experts, my questions and queries were answered.

All I need to do now, is provide a home for my newly purchased plants, and have a serious chat with my Felco secateurs about early retirement…