Dubbed the Glastonbury for gardeners, there is a definite laid back vibe to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival this year – with wild colours, wildlife and wellbeing the central themes
Our green spaces are not just places for us to enjoy, they can provide asylum for wildlife too. In fact, recent research shows Britain’s private gardens cover an area bigger than all of the country’s nature reserves combined.
So welcoming wildlife is a theme of many of the gardens at Hampton Court 2019, including the BBC Springwatch Garden, by award-winning garden designer Jo Thompson, and the RHS Back to Nature garden. There are vegetable planters designed with built-in insect hotels in The Year of Green Action garden, by Helen J Rosevear and Jane Stoneham from the Sensory Trust, and a beautiful honeycomb habitat wall in the Urban Pollinator’s garden.
Gardening is proving to be a social and therapeutic prescription for our mental health and many of the gardens touch on this. The Through Your Eyes garden asks us to see the “path of life” from the perspective of a giant head, while the Therapeutic Garden shines a spotlight on the benefits of gardening on anxiety and dementia.
The Stop and Pause garden is inspired by meditation, and at the Crest Nicholson Livewell Garden a bubbling bronze pool encourages community spaces to have areas for quiet moments of reflection.
The polarizing Calm Amidst the Chaos garden, by Joe Francis of Gardens for Good, takes this idea to a new level. Dedicated to the Maytree charity, a respite centre for people who are feeling suicidal, it looks at the pressures of the modern world and how we can find peace and tranquility. A jumble of junk and concrete – which includes a “wave of knife crime” sculpture made from knives donated by Thames Valley police – surrounds a peaceful oasis at its centre.
3. Green gardening
Almost every garden at the show has a nod to our impact on the planet. The Thames Water Flourishing Garden focuses on water usage, while the Smart Meter Garden look at the crucial role trees play in reducing CO2.
There is also a completely new category this year – the Global Impact Gardens – which explore themes of plastic “blindness”, and the threat to natural resources such as forests.
4. Clashing colours
Clashing colours are still very trendy. Achillea Moonshine is definitely THE plant of 2019! Its luminous yellow is in evidence across the show, mixing it up with bold tangerines, pinks and purples.
Like this? You might like to read about my top takeaways from Coton Manor Garden in Northampton