Garden Shows and Show Gardens
It’s the garden shows season and the Royal Horticultural Society, North of England Horticultural Society, Gardeners World and Gardens Illustrated are all holding shows in England. In Scotland, Rural Projects stage Gardening Scotland in early June.
Throughout the season, organisers make a real effort to keep the emphasis on horticulture. Lifestyle, food and craft shopping are an essential feature for many visitors but the heart of every show relies, for its integrity, on our independent nurseries: Hartside Nurseries at Harrogate or Dysons Salvias at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show for instance.
This year there is a new show: The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show sponsored by Wedgwood.
For many tourist attractions, our gardens included, Chatsworth sets the gold standard for tourists and visitors seeking an excellent customer experience. I love porcelain and bone china and, of course, I am potty about plants so this was a dream combination for me.
Despite the teething problems (traffic, dealing with the extremes of british weather and untested structures,) this new show ought to become a firm fixture in the show calendar. It was a sell out, the setting was unbeatable and some big names featured in the exhibitors and show garden areas.
Trends in Show Gardens
The trend seen at RHS Chelsea continued at Chatsworth; stylised recreations of pastures, uplands and shady copses were everywhere. This is great news for us as it is a style of gardening that we embrace. It’s wild gardening in the best sense. It is floral, creates complex tapestries that take a while to look at and take in and, crucially, it also encourages the small things to thrive in the garden.
‘Natural gardens’ like these create a peaceful atmosphere, increased birdsong and, with so much wild activity, they encourage the visitor or gardener to feel they are part of something and not merely an observer. Chemicals, in most cases, become unnecessary. It’s not a low maintenance option and hand weeding is essential from early spring until mid july. It’s good to see the RHS and garden designers helping to explain to some garden visitors that wild flowers are not ‘weeds’.