Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

I will be the first to admit that I do not go to Hampton Court Flower Show every year like I go to Chelsea Flower Show. In fact, I have not been since 2010 when I helped my friend Fi Boyle with her show garden for Combat Stress. It would seem I have been missing a lot! There is something for everybody to see - from the show gardens to the many many opportunities to shop.


My first stop was the Plant Heritage marquee which celebrates some of the National Plant Collections held across the country. 

Calendula Display

Bristol Zoological Gardens teamed up with community and school groups to create a cheerful display of Calendula (English or pot Marigold). 


The Growing Tastes area celebrates the benefits of growing your own ingredients. My personal favourite is the Plants4Presents 'Grow Your Own Curry' display, which would be a huge hit in this house! 

Grow your own curry

Hook Green Herbs had a great display of culinary and medicinal herbs, including this lovely look at thyme. 

thyme display - Hook Green Herbs


Next up was the Festival of Roses and Floristry. The theme was Circus and the floral displays were colourful and creative. The air on Monday was heavily scented by the roses and the humidity made the scents even stronger. As a bonus, I happened to meet Martin from Martin and the Magpie florists in Hungerford, who I have been following on instagram for some months now. 

Jane Packer Circus display

I love this display by Jane Packer Flowers. It is colourful, amusing and nostalgic.

MacKinley Gibson's elephant was created of moss and sedums. Look at those eyelashes! It won the award for Best Professional Floristry Exhibit.

MacKinlay Gibson


close up

The display by David Austin Roses was a sumptuous scented delight and deservably won the award for Best Rose Exhibit. Their rose 'Gentle Hermione' is on my wish list, I just need to spend a bit more time in my garden to make room for it!

Rosa Gentle Hermione

And then, finally to the Show Gardens. 

First look was at the 'Summer Gardens'.

The winner of the Best Summer Garden category was 'A Space to Connect and Grow' designed by Jeni Cairns and Sophie Antonelli as an outdoor space for performing, relaxing and relaxing. Their garden won Gold. 

A Space to Connect and Grow

The garden was created with a community growing project The Green Backyard. The pavillion features a living green roof and a metal stage for performances. I quite liked the wooden benches with planters. 

Bench detail

Next door was the Living Landscapes 'Al Fresco' garden designed by Peter Reader, which  won silver-gilt. This modern entertaining space had raised planting beds, log burning stove and water feature together with a chic eating area covered with a green oak pergola sourced in Surrey. 

Living LAndscapes Garden at Hampton Court 2014

The covered eating area is shaded by a green oak pergola which matches the wall detail above the built-in kitchen. 

Living Landscapes Outdoor Eating

I particularly like the contrast of the crisp detailing of the stonework and white walls against the oak and abundant planting. These are details that clients can relate to and like to see in their own gardens. 

Water feature

The London City Garden by Jonathan Mark which won Bronze seems to me to be a garden for an urban courtyard which requires a low-maintenance scheme. It's simple lines and still water are nice but this sort of look doesn't do it for me. I would have loved to have seen the brief for the garden to better understand the aim of the design. 

JOnathan Mark'

The four show gardens in the 'Your Garden Your Budget' category were winners of a competition run by the RHS in conjunction with the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). The main aim is to demonstrate that it is possible, within a fixed budget, to achieve both high quality design with high quality build. Entry was exclusive to members of the APL.

The Bacchus Garden, designed by Wardrop Designs, had a budget of £10,000. Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and the garden was planned with summer soirees or wine tastin gin mind. Spot the wine bottle ends used as risers on the steps and the multi-stemmed trees growing out of barrels. Awarded a Silver medal. 

Bacchus GArden, Hampton Court 2014

The Halo garden was built to a budget of £13,000 by Hambroooks to a design by in-house designer Stuart Charles Towner. The blue ring is to represent the blue of the Greek islands and the Orthodox church domes. The plants are Mediteranean with lots of scented herbs such as thyme, fennel, rosemary and oregano. One of the details that I particularly likes was the honed stone on the seats circling the firepit was the same stone as used elsewhere in the garden - the finish makes it looks very different. This garden was awarded a Silver-Gilt. 

Hambrooks Halo garden

Of the large Show Gardens, my favourite was The Just Retirement garden designed by Jack Dunkley, which won Silver-Gilt. This garden was sponsored by Just Retirement and promotes investing holistically as well as financally towards ones retirement and to raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing. 

Just Retirement Garden bu Jack Dunkley

 This lush and controlled space featured clipped standard trees in cubes above swaths of lavender and agapanthus. The colours were subtle and harmonius. 

Just Retirement Garden by Jack Dunkley



There was so much to see and take in and such a treat to be there on Press Day! Next time I bring you the Conceptual Gardens - the Seven Deadly Sins! 


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