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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 7 July 2007

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Some tall delphiniumsAs I mentioned in a previous blog entry, today was the day Mother and I went to the Royal Horticultural Society's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

The whole day - which turned out to be wonderfully warm and sunny, though not overwhelmingly so - was a sensory overload of colour, scent and texture, with displays of familiar plants (though so many varieties!) and exotic show gardens.

After a short delay due to extremely busy trains and not finding each other at Clapham Junction, we met up at Hampton Court railway station shortly before midday, and caught the ferry along the Thames to where the show was being held. It was only about quarter of a mile, but it was perfect weather for a trip on the water! Once we had checked in and were settled, we sat down in the shade near the information kiosk for a quick picnic lunch, and then investigated the first of six or seven marquees on the site - the Festival of Roses.

That has definitely inspired me to try my hand at growing roses - perhaps in one of the beds towards the back of the garden (especially since what were supposed to be sunflowers turned out to be weeds! Thanks for the research, Liz!)

We then made our way past all the show gardens, many of which won awards, some of which were sponsored by wine producers and a couple of which made me wish we had a flat garden.. see the video below for one of my favourites!

This excellent Flash FLV player can be found at: www.jeroenwijering.com/?item=JW_FLV_Player

Incidentally, I'm hoping to create a slightly longer YouTube video with highlights from the trip and an audio commentry, but - as always - these things take time!

We weren't far from the floral marquees by that point, so we visited most of them, stopping outside for some fresh air on occasion (despite being out of the sun, it was still warm and humid inside the giant tents!) - there was a live band playing in one of the food areas, giving it something of a festival feel.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust standOne of the stands was rather unusual - it was dedicated to the plight of bumblebees, which I hadn't realised are facing extinction due to the loss of their native habitat, mainly in farming areas. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was set up to raise awareness of the decline in a number of species of what should be fairly common bees.

The Daily Mail Darling Buds of May marquee was host to a strange and compelling selection of gardens, including an orchard with chickens (and pigs, I understand, but there weren't any there when we visited) and a Kent Oasthouse (which could be won in a competition, apparently).

After spending some time in the Heritage marquee, which displayed some of the more traditional 'breeds' of plants, and has the intention of keeping them available despite the immense number of more modern (and, it would appear, colourful and hardy - compare, for example, the heritage delphiniums with this year's prizewinning breeds) versions of the same flower, we walked back along the path flanking the marquees, past countless people ambling along in front of their their "Wheelieboxes", and taking in the amazing selection of garden-related products for sale.

These ranged from giant step-ladders, through hot-tubs and summerhouses to some terrifyingly huge and opulent statues... funnily enough, though, I still haven't seen a bird-bath!

A view of the Thames near Hampton Court PalaceOnce we had returned to the entrance - with plenty left unseen (for example the garden created by Alton Infant School) it was time to walk back along the bank of the river to the railway station, to catch the train home. Fortunately - after all that walking - we found seats this time!

All-in-all, it was a fantastic day out, and I'm very grateful to Emma for making it possible, and Mother for coming all the way to Surrey with me!

There are lots more pictures in my on-line photo gallery (including a few unusual ones I took at Vauxhall Station on my way there) - and the BBC Gardening website has some excellent interactive 3D tours of some of the gardens, too.

Posted by james at July 7, 2007 11:58 PM

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