Guest Post: Alba Villacampa Visits Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hi! It’s Alba here. I’m taking over the blog for a day.

The week before last was full of surprises. My husband made me pack on Sunday ready to go the next morning from Tenerife (Canary Islands) where we live, to “somewhere”… He had some fun making me queue up at the check-in desks for a few destinations until we finally got our boarding pass to London!

I’m not sure about how many times I’ve been to London but it’s always worth the visit and you can be sure to find loads of new interesting things going on.

We went out for dinner with Jorge the same evening we arrived. There we were, two friends and Spanish garden designers catching up at Nando´s in Gloucester Road. But, the unknown destination was not the only surprise that awaited for me that Monday. Jorge took a press pass for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show out of his pocket and my name was on it to write about and photograph the show for LLO!

I want to thank Stephanie and Jorge for the opportunity of visiting the Flower Show and as I promised, here’s my view of what was going on this year at the show.

A Cool Garden (22)Photo: A cool garden designed by Ruth Marshall

A Cool Garden (11)Photo: A cool garden designed by Ruth Marshall

A Cool GardenPhoto: A cool garden designed by Ruth Marshall

The planting scheme gives this garden by Ruth Marshall a rural aspect which is emphasised by the use of natural materials. The creative water feature and the glass panel bridge are worth highlighting.

A room with a viewPhoto: A Room with a View designed by Mike Harvey

This gold medal winner garden by Mike Harvey was built with a low budget using reclaimed materials. The array of colours of the plantings looked gorgeous.

A valley gardenPhoto: A Valley Garden designed by Sophie Walker 

The large textures of the plants used in Sophie Walker’s garden reminded me of the subtropical gardens we have in Tenerife. I particularly loved the use of the still water surface where plants and light reflected.

Ashes to AshesPhoto: Ashes to Ashes designed by Bruce Waldock

The theme of this garden by Bruce Waldock – another gold medal winner – was the threat of Ash dieback in the UK for which the designer suggests a hopeful green and happy ending.

AthanasiaPhoto: Anthasia designed by David Sarton

One of the reasons I enjoy so much the flower shows in the UK is because of the differences between gardens back in Tenerife and the ones in the UK. It’s not only the species used but the planting schemes are so distinct. This garden by David Sarton is a good example; the relaxed and natural composition makes me want to just sit on one of those wooden cubes all afternoon.

August 1963 - I Have A Dream (2)Photo: August 1963 – I Have A Dream designed by Stephen A Ryan

A much more contemporary garden, Stephen Ryan’s design is worthy of the silver gilt medal it was awarded.

Between The Lines (1)Photo: Between The Lines designed by Maurice Butcher

Bugs in Boots (2)Photo: Bugs in Boots designed by Caspian Robertson

Here is another low cost garden with a very good result by Caspian Robertson. Love the natural appearance of the planting scheme and the detail of the “hanging basket”.

Desolation to Regeneration (1)Photo: Desolation to Regeneration designed by Catherine MacDonald

Desolation to RegenerationPhoto: Desolation to Regeneration designed by Catherine MacDonald

Catherine MacDonald’s design was rewarded not only with a gold medal, but this garden also won the Best Conceptual Garden award. It was very much a show garden, with sounds and smoke effects.

Four Corners (2)Photo: Four Corners designed by Peter Reader

Four CornersPhoto: Four Corners designed by Peter Reader

Again, Peter Reader’s garden is one that just makes me want to lay back and relax.

Home Spun (1)Photo: Home Spun designed by Kasia Howard

I have to admit I didn’t like this garden by Kasia Howard too much during the show, but now I’m looking at the photographs it has so much creativity that I feel I didn’t pay enough attention to it. It’s a bronze medal garden winner.

In At The Deep End (5)Photo: In At The Deep End designed by Peter Cowell & Monty Richardson

In At The Deep EndPhoto: In At The Deep End designed by Peter Cowell & Monty Richardson

Peter Cowell and Monty Richardson’s collaboration is another low budget garden with a spectacular result. They achieved a lovely effect with the planting space between the steps.

Layers and Links (3)Photo: Layers and Links designed by Raine Clarke-Wills

Macmillan Legacy Garden (1)Photo: Macmillan Legacy Garden designed by Rebecca Govier – Green Edge Garden Design

Mid century modern (1)Photo: Mid Century Modern designed by Adele Ford & Susan Willmott

Mid century modern (2)Photo: Mid Century Modern designed by Adele Ford & Susan Willmott

I liked the bright coloured design of Adele Ford and Susan Willmott’s garden. It is full of energy. So did the judges because this was a gold medal winner and the Best Low Cost High Impact Garden.

The Ecover Garden (1)Photo: The Ecover Garden designed by Matthew Childs

The Ecover Garden (2)Photo: The Ecover Garden designed by Matthew Childs

A gold medal and Best Show Garden were awarded to designer Matthew Childs. Sponsored by Ecover, this garden was all about sustainability.

The Garden Pad (3)Photo: The Garden Pad designed by Dan Bowyer

Dan Bowyer’s design was one of Jorge’s favourite gardens. Though I didn’t go inside it, I guess It must be lovely to sit in this hollow patio with all those plantings around creating a perfect sense of privacy while you enjoy a glass of champagne.

The Hot Stuff GardenPhoto: The Hot Stuff Garden designed by Victoria Truman & Liz Rentzsch Garden Design, Marcus Foster

The McCarthy and Stone Garden (3)Photo: The McCarthy and Stone Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw

The McCarthy and Stone GardenPhoto: The McCarthy and Stone Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw

The corten steel structure centred all the attention of this gold medal show garden by Chris Beardshaw. I’ve been to Chelsea Flower Show twice and it still amazes me how they get all the big trees and hedges to look as if they have been there for ages.

The QEF Garden for JoyPhoto: The QEF Garden for Joy designed by Heather Appleton in association with

The QEF Garden for Joy (1)Photo: The QEF Garden for Joy designed by Heather Appleton in association with

I especially liked the cooper screen and the weaved structure around the plantings of this design by Heather Appleton, although the most important characteristic was that it was a fully accessible garden which is unfortunately not very common in my home town.

The singing tree (1)Photo: The Singing Tree designed by Clive Mollart & Clive Scott

Tip ot the IcebergPhoto: Tip of the Iceberg designed by Caroline Tait & John Esling

Willow PatternPhoto: Willow Pattern designed by Sue Thomas

Vestra Wealth's Jardin du Gourmet (1)Photo: Vestra Wealth’s Jardin du Gourmet designed by Paul Martin

Vestra Wealth's Jardin du GourmetPhoto: Vestra Wealth’s Jardin du Gourmet designed by Paul Martin

Now I’ve had the opportunity to visit three flower shows in the UK I’ve noticed I prefer show gardens where you can find inspiration for future works. This garden by Paul Martin is a good example!

To end this post, here are a few more photos from around the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show just to show you it’s not only a garden show.





Monty Don
Oh! By the way, we spotted Monty Don at the show (above). For those of you that are not from the UK, he’s a famous television presenter and writer on horticulture.

Thanks Alba!

Find Alba on her garden design website, Facebook and Twitter.

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