Looking at wild geraniums
Dazzling disas at the world's largest flower show

Plants (and rain) at the largest flower show in the world

We’ve been at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week. Held in the grounds of Henry the Eighth’s palace alongside the River Thames on the southern outskirts of London, this is the largest flower show in the world. And, this year, the one with the most rain.

It was pretty much impossible to see the show gardens on press day on Monday as it rained virtually non stop for 16 hours. But I’ve been focusing on the floral marquees and posting about the plants every day for the Royal Horticultural Society’s website here.

JekkasThymes11446-500 The award for the best floral exhibit went to a superb herb stand from Jekka’s Herbs with an arch of Galega officinalis and a delightful stone terrace interplanted with flowering thymes. Indeed food was prominent everywhere at the Show. There was a fascinating and inspiring stand of chilli peppers in a wide range of varieties from Cookoo Box Chillies, the Growing Tastes Garden and Marquee housed a whole range of stands featuring edible plants as well as a traditional vegetable show and there was even a Thai floating food market on the lake.

Other exhibits in line for the best in the floral marquees included a pristine stand of lilies from H. W. Hyde and South African Disa orchids from Dave Parkinson DisaDisplay11424-400 who re-assured me that given the same conditions as you’d choose for carnivorous plants they are much less difficult to grow than people think.

Of the plants on show, in addition to those disas, it was great to see a whole range of different forms of Ginkgo biloba on the stand from the Big Plant Nursery and Dahlia ‘Candy Eyes’ DahliacandyEyes-60011390 from Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants is a dramatic new dark-leaved introduction - and this across the isle from a whole stand of fascinating dahlias old and new from Winchester Growers. The trailing yellow Scutellaria havanensis, from Hopleys Plants, looks to be an excellent newcomer for tumbling over the edges of raised beds while the new heucheras like ‘Tiramisu’, from French breeder Thierry Delabroye, on the stand from Plantagogo, are re-igniting enthusiasm for these invaluable foliage plants. The red-stemmed variegated hostas ‘Torchlight’ and ‘Rise and Shine’ from Goldbrook Plants hinted at the possibility of red-leaved hostas in a decade or two.

Everywhere you turn at the Hampton Court show there are plants – and, of course, at Hampton Court you can buy them and take them home there and then. Not so at Chelsea where you have to place orders for delivery later. How long before the Chelsea Flower Show moves from Chelsea to a site where there is space for nurseries to store enough plants for visitors to buy?