I was delighted, this year, to be invited by the RHS to be part of their ‘Invisible Garden’ stand at this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show. I have exhibited with my own stand at BBC Gardeners’ World , working with many of the RHS team members, but this year I decided to have a year off due to work commitments and the immense amount of time which is required to plan, build and then be present on a show stand. It does make you appreciate all the more, what is involved in creating some of the amazing stands at Hampton this year.
This year, the RHS designed a huge stand of their own, to highlight the amazing hidden , ‘invisible’ world that is our own gardens. Through a series of microscopes and specimens, visitors were invited to interact with the stand and take a look under the bench microscopes as well as watch on the big screen, what was under the main microscope. The stand looked amazing and certainly drew in the crowds! It was not only microscopes on view; a bumble bee tank, wormery , butterflies and amazing bug hotel were also displayed…
Outside, a beautiful ‘visible’ Garden had been created, showing how you can create lots of habitats for wildlife in a relatively small space. It looked beautiful!
I ran a series of activities, making some ‘Seed Bees’. I came up with this idea when I had been making some little clay seed balls with the kids at school. We mixed compost, seeds and clay together and then tested them to see if the clay would dissolve when it rained… it did! I then played around with a few more ideas, wanting to create something that people could take away with them that got the message across that we can easily increase the pollinators in our garden by planting nectar rich plans that are attractive to them.
Charlotte, my daughter, worked with me to create a logo and a set of illustrated instructions. These would then be printed by the RHS and put in a little pack. The visitors’ Seed Bees that they had made would then be popped in the bag to be taken home to plant! I made some little transparent wings to add, that made them look really sweet!
The activity was really popular and in one session of an hour, I was making over 100 Seed Bees!! All of the instructions and free downloadable materials will be available on my website over the next week or so. It is a great activity to do with kids!
Charlotte’s Blog posts about her designs can be seen on her blog www.charlottemacrae.weebly.com
It was great to be able to have a look around the whole show ground… and especially great when you can do that before the show opens!
Two gardens were of particular interest to me; the PTES Hedgehog Street Garden and the Jordans Wildlife Garden. Although many of the gardens this year had a strong wildlife element, there 2 gardens were very much focused on this theme.
I met Hugh Warwick ecologist and writer, with a particular fondness for hedgehogs and Jill Nelson, who is the Chief Executive of PTES to have a tour of the Gold winning garden before the show opened and I was not disappointed! The garden was actually three adjoining suburban gardens, all showing how to make your garden hedgehog friendly, whatever the style of the garden. From creating adjoining gateways to link the gardens, to feeding stations, water sources and hedgehog homes, the messages were brilliantly conveyed in 3 stunning gardens.
I absolutely loved it and congratulations for their RHS Gold award and their success in winning the People’s Choice award for best small garden!
I also visited Selina Botham on her garden designed for Jordans, as a celebration of their long-term commitment to the British countryside. The garden was based on the idea that this space can easily be a larder to both wildlife and animals. It was boasted oats, a native hedgerow with blackberries, wild strawberries and rose hips and a nut terrace, bursting with cobnuts, acorns and beechnuts. I loved the swathes of wild flowers and the unique sculptured insect homes, birdhouses and feeding stations. Two beautifully sculptured straw benches provided a lovely relaxing space to view this garden which perfectly demonstrated how gardening for wildlife does not necessarily mean overgrown grass and a mess of weeds. I also loved that several schools benefitted from this garden as lots of the plants found new homes in their school grounds!
The planting around the show was truly wonderful and very inspirational! I could not believe how many insects I saw taking advantage of all the wonderful nectar-rich planting, including lots of Small skippers which loved the lavender displays in particular. Here are a selection of the many shots I took showing some of the stunning displays…
I absolutely loved my time at Hampton! A massive thanks to all the wonderful girls and guys from the RHS in the Invisible Garden stand. I hope to return another year to be inspired again by all the amazing exhibits and stands in this stunning location!