Saturday, July 13, 2013

A showy garden but not a show garden in sight

My day at the Hampton Court flower show on Monday was hot, sticky and tiring! The journey from Nottingham via the wilds of Clapham junction to the far reaches of Hampton Court took a tedious five hours, meaning that I almost missed lunch (vital) and arrived just in time for judging (fairly important).

After 5 hours traveling my mood was black and it was searingly hot!
After judging in the floral marquee and a long moderation meeting, my mind was on food and a drink - yes - I NEEDED a glass of wine! After an abortive wait at a gourmet burger stand, where a hiccup with the credit card machine was taking the full attention of the only three staff, I settled for fish and chips which was actually very good if not quite in the style for the gala evening! My only disappointment was spilling half my wine - maybe I didn't NEED it! Anyway the upshot was that I didn't get to look around until probably 7.30pm by which time, I admit I just wasn't in the mood, so I saw very little of the show.  If you want to see a great account of all the show gardens go to Gaz and Mark's superb blog, Alternative Eden where you'll find some lovely pics and a great account. I did however take a quick look round the floral marquee and took some pictures of Fir Tree Pelargoniums who quite justifiably won the best in the floral marquee award. These are no small plant fillers but wonderful show specimens, some many years old that are carefully nurtured, returned to the nursery, pruned and brought back to shows each year. Well done Helen!

Fir Tree Pelargoniums - Best in the Floral Marquee

After a very hot night in a noisy Holiday Inn next door to Teddington Station, I made my way back to central London for breakfast in my favourite bistro, Balans in Old Compton Street. I had decided to spend the day in Regent's Park which I have never really explored. This 410 acre (166hectare) park was originally laid out in the 19C to designs by the architect John Nash who designed the many beautiful terraced houses that surround the park. The work was commissioned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) hence the name Regent's Park. A new royal residence should have been the centerpiece of the park but was never built.  It was opened to the public in 1835, originally for just two days a week. London Zoo still occupies land to the north of the park. Queen Mary's Gardens in the Inner Circle were opened in the 1930's on an area previously leased to the Royal Botanical Society. This was named after the wife of King George V and features 12,000 rose in 85 varieties. Sadly some of the beds were showing badly disfigured plants with mildew and blackspot but with European restrictions, there are so few chemicals available to control these diseases.

Rosa 'Lucky'

Rosa 'Pride of England'

Rosa 'Singin' in the Rain'
Celebrity designed deckchairs in the rose garden

By modern standards, these gardens are very formal and dated but are in general maintained superbly, so excellent examples of traditional parks horticulture of that era. As well as the rose garden, there is formal bedding, herbaceous borders, pools, fountains, sub-tropical bedding, a rock garden, a lake, wildlife garden, allotment and many trees and shrubs.

The National collection of delphineums - these ones 'Foxhill Nina' (pink) and 'Galileo'

The pathway to the zoo

The Italian Garden
Sub-tropical borders
Canna iridiflora 'Ehemanii'

Phygelius 'Pink Sensation' looking spectacular

Colocasia - probably 'Black magic'

Alocasia macrorrhiza (I think?)

Ligularia - is it 'The Rocket'?

Taxodium distichum by the lakeside
Pneumatophores - breathing roots linked to the tree above

Regent's Park allotment garden
As well as Queen Mary's Gardens, there are some very formal borders called the Avenue Gardens with superb examples of mixed borders and formal Victorian bedding - love it or hate it, this is well done and entirely appropriate in a heritage park. Some striking colour schemes and good plant associations

The day of my visit was hot and sunny and it was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the park; families, young people, joggers, office workers on lunch breaks, photographers and artists.  This was a wonderful day in a showy garden without a 'show garden' in sight!


  1. Dear Ian. Looks like a trip to Regents Park is planned. I go at least once in the Summer. I like to see how other bodies use Summer bedding. Regents Park is well maintained and the Parks Staff work very hard keeping it to a very high standard. I would have gone to Hampton Court FS if it was not for the heat. Its to much and working in the City this week its been tough for guys keeping, summer displays, new permanent projects and new trees watered. Tatton for Me this year. Again, Pics are good. Long live the Bedding!

  2. I must confess that even though I've been working in the Regents Park area for the seven years now I've never actually bothered to go in an explore the park properly, oops! It's looking good and I might just rectify such an omission soon.

    Thanks for the link! Hoping to still be able to catch you in one of the shows in the near future (Tatton Park this year?).