As I travel the world I visit as many gardens as I can fit in to any one trip. There is a huge diversity of styles but what happens when you attempt to design a show garden that epitomises a country or region?
At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show there is a section devoted to World Gardens. I went along on Press Day to preview the five gardens and meet with the designers and sponsors. Here then are my thoughts and impressions and some photographs to whet your appetite.
Brand USA sponsored two gardens, both of them urban gardens. Sadie May Stowell designed both gardens.
The Charleston Garden
The Charleston Garden tries to capture the charm and elegance of Charleston and takes inspiration from the hidden gardens of the city. The garden has a sub-tropical feel with plants such as magnolia, hydrangea and camellia a formalised setting around a fountain and enclosed with wrought iron fencing and posing gates.
The Massachusetts Garden
The Massachusetts Garden depicts open green spaces of Boston. The city of Boston has many green spaces and this comes across well in the garden with backdrop of printed screens showing elements of the skyline. The garden incorporates elements from both contemporary and historic Boston with the straight lines of the water feature blending well with the cobbles and old fashioned street lamps. The planting incorporates trees and shrubs along with flowering plants found in the public spaces of Boston.
Next to the two US Gardens is the diminutive Impressionist Garden sponsored by Visit Normandy. This garden could easily fit into any town garden and yet have found room for so much. The inspiration for the garden comes from the impressionist Monet’s garden at Giverny. In the foreground are the blue agapanthus that appear in many of his paintings along with the iconic bridge at the back of the garden. A pond with the iconic water lilies completes the picture. The planting between these structural elements could well have come from the paint brush of Monet himself. To achieve the impressionist style with planting in such a small space is quite remarkable.
Spirit of the Aegean
If you have visited the anywhere on the Aegean Sea you will instantly recognised the many elements brought together in the Spirit of the Aegean garden. The enclosing walls are the blue and white typical of the region. The planting also echoes the region. The fuchsia pink of the bougainvillea on the walls accentuate the perimeter and give you an enclosed feel. The planting in blues and purples with soft spires of white once again evoke the blue of the Aegean Sea and the white of the houses along its coast. There are rills of still turquoise water set around a shaded seating area. Making for a delightfully pleasing and restful garden. I think it is time I visited the region again.
This garden is sponsored by Noble Caledonia and designed by Esra Parr. It is her first RHS show garden and she has only been out of college 18 months – she will go far on the strength of this garden.
Garden of Paradise
Another peaceful garden is the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism‘s Garden of Paradise. This garden, designed by Nilufer Danis is influence by the Gardens Paradise that originated in the 10th century among the Mughal Turkish Emperors. The idea was to represent paradise in a private enclosure with only a peek through iron grills. As such this show garden has both those elements as well as the two indispensable elements of Islamic gardens; water and shade. Planting in this garden includes trees for shade and flower beds in a riot of hot colours. Water flows from fountains and in the canals is evocative of the Gardens of Paradise and achieves that very well here.
If like me gardens inspire you to travel then the Royal Horticultural Society have partnered with a number of companies that offer garden themed holidays in the UK, Europe and worldwide. They also offer garden themed cruises, often with a guest expert on board. You can find more details of all the holidays offered at RHS Garden Holidays.
If you want to see these gardens for yourself the show goes on until Sunday 5th July. More details on the RHS website