On edibles and a trolley at RHS Hampton Court

A visit to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is one of my highlights of the gardening year –  an idyllic location beside Hampton Court Palace and the Thames,  a vast array of show gardens, stand holders with just about everything you might need and plenty of  eateries. Combine that with a fine summer’s day and you’ve got it cracked.

This year I went with a friend who had a van and a trolley.  And no, it wasn’t one of those small, ubiquitous folding ones, but a rather large rectangular folding trolley on wheels – a bit like the festival ones you see being dragged through the mud at Glastonbury.  When Jean pulled out out the back of the van, I thought her mad – how were we going to drag that around the show, assuming we could manage to get it over the footbridge between the car park and gardens in the first place. ‘Just you wait and see how many people comment on it’, she said. I was thinking abuse more like, but she added, ‘ I always get offers for it’.  By the time we had man-handled it over the bridge, pulled it past the palace and reached the gates  we had had three comments along the lines, ‘you must be planning a lot of shopping’. We were asked where we had bought it on the other side of the gates. In fact, every time I stopped to look around to see where she had got to, Jean was talking to somebody about the trolley … Fortunately, the plant creche was happy to look after it, so we ferried plants from stalls to creche.

Given the size of the show, I always try to have a purpose and a list of plants that I’m looking for. This year I was focused on the Dig In area as I had a shopping list of edible plants.

I’ve been following the progress of the RHS Grow Your Own with the Raymond Blanc Gardening School via Beryl (@mudandgluts) on Twitter so it was fascinating to be able to see the finished garden. It was also good to talk to some of the volunteers who had obviously enjoyed their time working on the garden.  In fact, many of my photos were taken in this delightful garden.

RHS Grow Your Own garden
Planting at the RHS Grow Your Own garden
RHS Grow Your Own garden vertical wall
Vertical wall at RHS Grow Your Own garden
RHS Grow Your Own garden
Attractive blue painted bean supports to create height and shade and an interesting walkway within the garden
RHS Grow Your Own garden
RHS Grow Your Own garden – the water harvesting wall was one of the many environmental features
RHS Grow Your Own garden
Upcycled metal container creates an attractive plant pot cum support for plants
RHS Grow Your Own garden
A compost heap at Hampton Court. Loved this essential feature in the corner of the RHS Grow Your Own garden

Next was the Dig In marquee with some very familiar names  – Plants4Presents, Hooksgreen Herbs, Pennard Plants, Battlebridge Mill, The Garlic Farm, Franchi Seeds and Blackmoor Nurseries. It was impossible to escape here without any purchases so I left with a 4-season lemon tree and Stevia plant from Plants4Presents  and wasabi, pineapple guava and a new dwarf raspberry variety from Pennard Plants. Thank goodness for a large, sturdy trolley as there was no way I would have been able to get the lemon tree to the car with its developing lemons still attached!

Pennard Plants (one of my fav suppliers of edible plants)  gained a gold award and Best Dig In exhibit which was well deserved as you can see here.

hampton pennard plants salad
Pennard Plants winning gold and Best in the Dig In marquee
RHS Hampton Court Pennard Plants
Some of the salad varieties on the Pennard Plants stand
Pennard Plants at RHS Hampton Court
Oh Happy Days tomato, a new introduction by Burpee Seeds UK @BurpeeEurope

Finally, I dragged myself away from the array of edibles on offer, took in some of the show gardens, the wonderful Evolve exhibit on the evolution of plants (brilliant) and collected the by now full trolley from the creche.

RHS Hampton Court Evovle exhibit Wollemi pione and monkey puzzle
The swamp area of the Evolve exhibit with monkey puzzle and Wollemi pine from the Cretaceous. Inspirational exhibit showing off the brilliance of plants

We made our way out of the show ground via the impressive meadow display of thousands of  Verbena bonariensis, which looked stunning when you looked up and saw them against the perfect blue sky.

Verbena bonariensis
River of Flowers Verbena bonariensis at RHS Hapton Court 2018
Verbena bonariensis against a perfect blue sky at RHS Hampton Court

And its odd how certain plants pop up everywhere. This year I spotted a Carolina Allspice in the Grow Your Own Garden [Calycanthus x raulstonii Aphrodite] and then I saw it in several other gardens including the Evolve exhibit. More on this fascinating edible in another blog.

hampton raymond blanc carolina allspice blog

And just as I was waiting with the trolley for Jean to complete a final shop by the exit I noticed a small exhibit that was festooned with #butterflies and #bees. Skipper butterflies (you can just see their small folded brown wings on the flowers) obviously love giant hyssop (Agastache). In fact, the wealth of insect life on the showground made this a very special day.

hampton flowers with skippers

And the trolley? Well, we made it back to the carpark, although we had to walk along the road for some distance to find a place where we could cross and avoid the footbridge. I dread to think of how many legs got bashed as we man-handled it through the busier parts of the show (apologies if you are reading this). Jean was quite right as we could have sold the trolley multiple times over, and yes, we managed to fill it!

PS if you are looking for a photo of the trolley – there is none. We were so exhausted by the time we got back to the van that we unloaded and drove home … may be next year!