Helping to put together the pelargonium display for Fibrex Nurseries is always a great privilege, as well as tremendous fun, so I was delighted to be back again this year with Richard and Heather and sister Fran. In spite of my love for pelargoniums – stemming mainly from the scented leaf varieties, as I’m a bit of a mug for aromatic plants – I’m by no means a natural when it comes to tender plants (cosseting not really being my thing), so I’m always fascinated at the quality and variety of what arrives by the trolley full during the build up week to a show. Not that you should expect anything less from the holders of umpteen RHS gold medals, the RHS Master Grower Award and, not least, two national collections (not only pelargoniums, but also ivies, which were the subject of a second display stand along with ferns which Fibrex also specialise in).
This year’s stand was a little different, in that the swags of trailing ivy-leaved pellies were absent from the top of the display, with Pelargonium ‘Deerwood Lavender Lass’ spilling out in profusion at the very front. The central mass of flowers was also something I don’t recall having been used in such profusion before, the very beautiful rosebud pelargonium ‘Apple Blossom’, with tightly held cream blooms tinged with pink and green.
It set the tone for the rest of the display, which took advantage of the some of the cooler blue-grey tones available in the wide variety of pelargonium foliage (such as ‘Grey Lady Plymouth’ and ‘Attar of Roses’, although the yellow-greens were present in accents with the variegated leaves of ‘Cy’s Sunburst’ and ‘Phyllis’. Plenty of pink (‘Jackie’) to offset the glaucous foliage, which isn’t to say that stronger colours were left out, with the rich berry tones of ‘Lord Bute’, ‘Mystery’ and ‘Hazel Cherry’ playing a key role.
Oh, and there was pellie cake, too. Heather’s secret recipe, suffused with essential oil distilled from scented pelargoniums. Delicious.
Another advantage of Sunday’s setup was being right next to the second of two stands from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants , where Rosy was creating a garden display entirely from annuals. It was a magical mix of frothy foliage and brightly coloured blooms around an inviting looking patio table, all achieved with the customary Hardy’s flare and tip top plants. Many were annuals that even I can cope with, mainly due to their habit of self seeding – cosmos and lavatera, which reseed to a degree, but nothing compared to nigella or Verbena bonariensis. Plants that keep on giving!
The main Hardy’s stand was arranged according to the colour wheel, and I found myself mesmerized in the warmer segment, looking on at the interplay between Agastache ‘Tango’, Geum ‘Scarlet Tempest’ and the wonderful Potentilla x hopwoodiana, with Dahlia ‘Shandy’ in the background.
Todd’s Botanics is a wonderful nursery and garden design service near Colchester in Essex, run by Pershore College graduates Mark and Emma McDonald. Their stands at the RHS Shows are always a delight, and this year’s effort for Hampton Court was no exception with its vision of mid- to late-summer colour.
The Heucheraholics stand was simplicity itself – heucheras and heucherallas arranged in a whimsical tiered display of wicker baskets – but the variety of colours and leaf markings and the fantastic condition of the plants made the display a pleasure to spend time with.
There’s always something interesting to see on the National Council for the Conservation of Plants & Gardens (NCCPG) Plant Heritage stand. I was particularly taken by this display of ginger relatives, the Roscoeas, especially the specimen growing in a pair of old cowboy boots.
The salvias from Dysons Nursery at Great Comp, near me in Kent, were looking in fine fettle, on a particularly textured display with the ornamental salvias surrounded by the tactile leaves of variegated culinary sages.
I’ve recently acquired a few rex begonias from Dibley’s online catalogue – perhaps rashly, given my success rate with house plants. But I’ve been yearning for their wonderful foliage around the house for a long time now. It was a real treat to see the plants grown so expertly, and shown off to their best advantage, and it certainly gives me something to aim for – once I’ve got over the hurdle of keeping them alive.
Another great Hampton Court has now ended, but there are plenty of other opportunities to find fabulous plants and friendly, expert growers. Why not seek out your local independent nursery on the website for the Independent Plant Nurseries Guide , or have a look at the Plant Fair page on the Hardy Plant Society’s website. And if you’re in the area at the beginning of September, many of those mentioned can be found at the Wisley Flower Show in September!
For more on this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, have a look at the first of my two blog posts here, which details highlights from the show gardens.
Did you go to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this year? What really struck you, either in the Floral Marquee or among the show gardens? Let me know, either in the comments below, or on twitter at @andrewtimothyob.