What to see at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014

PUBLISHED: 08:25 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:05 14 July 2014

An aerial view showing the house in the distance (Photo: RHS / Bethany Clarke)

An aerial view showing the house in the distance (Photo: RHS / Bethany Clarke)


Twice the size of Chelsea, RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the world’s biggest annual flower show. Here, Surrey Life gardening editor, Leigh Clapp, meets some of the local stars taking part and picks out the must-see things for this year – plus, we bring you an exclusive reader offer

One of the highlights in the annual gardening calendar, the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs this year from Tuesday July 8 to Sunday July 13 and will once again be the place to find inspiration for your garden, from grow-your-own to outdoor living.

The exhibitors, meanwhile, will all be vying for those coveted RHS medals and the show awards for best in category, including Summer Garden, Conceptual Garden and Show Garden, as well as in each of the marquees.

Like last year, the show will once again be divided into three zoned areas: on the north of the site, Grow, with nursery stalls, plant stalls and RHS advisers giving tips for your own garden; in the centre, Escape, where you can relax and retreat to the countryside; and by the Thames, Inspire, which will encourage visitors to rethink contemporary design by pushing boundaries and championing innovation.

From the large-scale Show Gardens through discovering new plants or admiring the floristry displays, you are sure to come away with a wealth of ideas.


Surrey set to shine

This year, there is a particular buzz around the Conceptual Gardens that are themed around the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ and feature some truly edgy designs. Look out for two Surrey residents for their interpretations in this category.

Rachel Parker Soden, an award-winning landscape and garden designer in West Molesey, who won Best Small Show Feature at last year’s event with her nostalgic Bee Garden, is focusing on ‘Lust’ with a glowing central glass room and provocative plants. The result is certain to be a talking point.

“The garden has been designed to explore the relationship between the beauty of plants and the function of flowers to reproduce,” says Rachel. “This has been done by re-contextualising the garden as a brothel in its own red light district and the show visitor as a voyeur looking in on the sex lives of plants.”

Also getting people talking will be Amanda Miller from Thames Ditton who is creating a garden symbolising ‘Pride’. Entitled Breaking Down the Wall of Pride, 
the garden is intended to generate thought and discussion around the topic of equality.

“The design represents a journey from the constraints of old-fashioned beliefs and people blinded by pride to a life of freedom,” says Amanda. “There’ll be dark suppressed planting at the rear of the garden and ending in a free, thriving and colourful landscape.”

Over in the Show Gardens, award-winning garden designer Selina Botham, from Esher, is designing the Jordans Cereals’ wildlife-themed garden, with an array of edible wildflowers, trees, hedges, fruit, nuts and vegetables.

“The garden provides a natural larder to share as a shelter for birds, bees, small mammals and insects,” says Selina. “It’s unveiling celebrates the belief that great tasting food comes from working closely with nature and is set to inspire gardeners everywhere to support British wildlife.”


Flying the flag

Our county is also represented in the Floral Marquee too. Local growers Hart Canna operate from Lincluden Nursery in Bisley and are the official holders of the Plant Heritage National Collection of Cannas. These flamboyant plants are a real passion for Keith and Christine Hayward and they are hoping to better their Silver Gilt Medal last year with their display for 2014.

“We will be showing Canna ‘Society Belle’ for the first time, a variety that grows at RHS Garden Wisley and has won an Award of Garden Merit,” says Keith. “We thought it should be on the market as it did well at the trials back in 2002, and after Dr James Armitage, senior botanist at the RHS, gave us some pieces from the plants at Wisley, we have grown them on.”

Also flying the flag for our county will be William and Simon Lockyer from Purley, who will have specimen and succulent plants on display from their Lingfield nursery. They won their first RHS Gold Medal at Chelsea in 2012 with their auricula theatre and at Hampton Court they showcase their array of later season perennials.

Then there’s the mainly Surrey-based garden centre chain Squires who have been at every Hampton Court show and this year are doing a garden to celebrate the 50th year of their Twickenham site.

Our county is also represented in the Trade Stands too, including outdoor lighting from Light Innovation in Epsom, British-made steel supports by Muntons in Dorking, hand-made lanterns and accessories from The Garden Lantern Co in East Molesey and sculptural fountains from Quist in Haslemere.


Stunning backdrop

So, all in all, not only are we lucky enough to have the world’s biggest flower show happening right on our doorstep, showcasing all the latest in garden design, but there is a wealth of local talent to look out for too.

And, what is more, it all takes place against the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Hampton Court Palace and its dramatic Long Water.

Oh, and last but not least, don’t forget about the plant sell-off, which takes place on the final day, Sunday July 13, from 4.30pm, and can be a chance to grab a bargain; we’ll see you in the queue!




12 must-see things for this year...


Apart from our local stars, here Leigh Clapp shares her suggestions for the must-see highlights at this year’s show


• The Conceptual Gardens will be themed around the ‘7 Deadly Sins’, with one garden representing each sin, sure to inspire some dramatic and provocative designs! Be intrigued and try to fathom the remaining five after reading about the two Surrey ones (see left).

• The Show Gardens are really strong 
this year – my own tips would be The Essence of Australia garden, celebrating contemporary design and outdoor living, as well as Paul Martin’s Vestra’s Vista, a smart, modern garden with a dining terrace surrounded by layered planting.

• The ‘Your Garden, Your Budget’ section, previously called ‘Low Cost, High Impact’, showcases attainable garden styles with budgets of £7k, £10k, £13k and £15k.

• The compact Summer Gardens are also great for seeing smaller-scale ideas to translate into your own garden.

• New for this year are three stations for hands-on activities, with expert guidance. Choose from sowing seeds, floristry or garden design computer programming – and you also get to take home your finished creation as well.

• Don’t miss the 95 fabulous nursery displays in the Floral Marquee – always a real treat.

• Discover all the national collection holders in The Plant Heritage Marquee (and read about a Surrey one on the left).

• There are 40 food stands, a cookery theatre and productive plants in The Growing Tastes Marquee. The Cookery Theatre has been redeveloped with more of a growing and eating theme, demonstrated by an exciting line up of celebrity chefs, yet to be announced.

• This year, there is a circus theme in the Rose and Floristry Marquee with some stunning displays promised as well as talks taking place.

• If you have children in tow, they are sure to love the popular Scarecrow Competition with more wonderfully whacky creations.

• One last thing – don’t forget the shopping! From gardening gloves to sublime outdoor benches, there’s something for everyone, with trade stands across the landscape and my favourite, the Country Living Magazine Pavilion, with over 120 stalls.

• And if you’re there on the last day, be sure to hang on for the end-of-show plant sell-off, where you can often grab a bargain (see details over the page).




RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Where: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey KT8 9AT

When: Tuesday July 8 to Sunday July 13 (10am-7.30pm)

Tickets: £19 to £33.50 (advanced booking). Each full-paying adult may bring two children under 16 for free

Contact: rhs.org.uk/hampton / Tel: 0207 649 1885

Useful info: On Tuesday July 8 and Wednesday July 9, the show is only open to RHS members (booking required).

Special preview: A Preview Evening takes place on Monday July 7, 5-10.30pm, a chance to enjoy the gardens with live music, alfresco dining and fireworks. £55 members, £65 non-members




Surrey Life’s top tips for your visit...


• Take a look at the Show Gardens early before the crowds get there

• Photograph plants and labels of choices you would like to add to your own garden

• Plants can be bought throughout the week to take home

• Need any garden problems solved? Then head to the RHS advisory stand in the Floral Marquee

• The popular plant sell-off will be held on Sunday July 13 from 4.30pm




A word from the expert...

Editor at large on our sister title, The English Garden, here Tamsin Westhorpe reveals what she’s most looking forward to at this year’s show


“RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is a highlight in my gardening year,” says Tamsin. “The main reason for visiting is to buy plants, so I go armed with strong plastic bags (if you have a collapsible crate on wheels, take it!) and a list of plants I’m seeking.

“Being able to talk to specialist growers is a treat and watching what other gardeners are buying gives me a clue as to what will be in fashion the following year.

“The Show Gardens are always particularly inspiring and this year I am looking forward to the Jordan’s Cereals wildlife-themed garden, which is going to have raised platforms, so you can view it from another vantage point.

“Walking across the bridges and looking down towards the impressive Palace is a thrill each time (especially as my ancestors helped with the plumbing works when it was first built!).

“To round off the day, nothing beats sitting by the Long Water with an ice cream and celebrity spotting. It’s the perfect day out.”


• The English Garden is a monthly magazine packed full with everything from Britain’s most beautiful gardens to expert advice and design tips (see theenglishgarden.co.uk)


• Try The English Garden today and enjoy five issues for just £5 – saving 77%. Call 0844 848 8053 and quote the code LEGSL514 or visit subscriptionsave.co.uk/LEGSL514




Get in touch:

If you’re heading to this year’s show, why not let us know at facebook.com/SurreyLife or twitter.com/SurreyLife, and remember to share your photos @ surreylife.co.uk/photos where you can also find lots more inspiration for your garden.



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