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Have you ever wondered what goes into the making of a show garden? With the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show coming up in June/July, Sarah Squire (Deputy Chairman at Squire’s Garden Centres) tells us how Squire’s prepare for their show garden at Hampton Court, which is celebrating it’s 25th Year this Summer.
Featured Plants Include:
Achillea ‘Cloth of Gold’, Agapanthus ‘Big Blue’, Alchemilla mollis, Anemanthele lessoniana, Buxus sempervirens, Cimicifuga racemosa ‘Brunette’, Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Erigeron karvinskianus, Fagus sylvatica, Fatsia japonica, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’, Hosta ‘Patriot’ Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Zorro’, Knautia macedonica, Magnolia soulangeana, Morus alba ‘Platanifolia’, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’, Rhodanthemum ‘Casablanca’, Sarcococca confuse, Scabious caucasica alba, Verbena bonariensis.
1. When do you start planning the show garden?
- We started planning last autumn. The initial design had to be with the RHS before Christmas.
2. This is Squire’s 25th Hampton Court show garden – how have the show gardens changed over the years?
- The show has changed dramatically over the last 25 years. It has grown in size and stature in the gardening calendar. The quality of exhibits gets better and better every year, and the sheer scale and variety of plants never ceases to amaze me.
3. A 25th Anniversary is symbolised by silver – are there any silver elements in the Squire’s show garden?
- There will be elements of silver in the planting but the varieties used will very much depend on what is looking at its peak in time for the show. That can depend very much on the sort of weather we have in the run up. We will prepare far more plants than we actually need to make sure we are only displaying the very best.
4. How many plants are used?
- Hundreds of plants are used! They are chosen at the point we plant up the show garden from the bank of plants we have assembled, depending upon whether they are in flower and looking their absolute best at that time, and what looks good in situ. We want to show plants that are proven to do well for people in their own gardens – providing a look that is interesting, beautiful and achievable.
5. How do you pick which varieties of plants to use?
- Seasonality is important. The plants have to look their absolute best for the show. Colour is also key as we are trying to create a look choosing plants that fit together harmoniously in terms of size and colour. Quality is a must.
6. Your show garden will include wild meadow flowers – how can I encourage wildlife into my garden?
- Water features, nectar rich plants, bird boxes, feeders and baths are all good ways to encourage wildlife into your garden. Consider having a small, untamed area where you allow a few nettles, and have hedges rather than fences.
Create a wildlife-friendly area in your garden
7. How many people are involved in constructing the show garden?
- It varies depending whether we need to bring in specialists such as electricians but I would say about 8-10.
8. What happens to the plants at the end of the show?
- There is a big sell off at the end of the show. A bell is rung and visitors have the chance to pick up some super bargains.
9. How can I replicate the show garden at home?
- I would advise taking elements of the design or planting you like, rather than trying to replicate the whole thing. In your own garden you are looking for all year round interest, and you have practical considerations to focus on too, like where is the washing line to go, or where to store the bins. Ultimately a show garden is a little bit of fantasy so focus on particular plants you like or the atmosphere you wish to create.
10. What makes the best show garden?
- The quality of design, quality of plants, and quality of the landscaping, construction and planting. The judges also want to see innovation.
Squire’s Award-Winning Show Garden 2014
11. What’s your favourite area at the Hampton Court show?
- The view to the west front of the palace as you cross the Long Water is absolutely stunning, and it makes a dramatic backdrop to the fireworks on Gala evening.
12. What’s a good way to get children interested in gardening?
- Plant a simple pot by the front/back door and watch it grow (chose something easy like a sunflower or poppy)
- Grow things that produce results quickly like bedding plants
- Grow things they like to eat
- Come along to Squire’s Create & Grow events in the school holidays
Sunflowers are easy for children to grow and make a great impact
You can visit Squire’s show garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show (stand number IN342), which takes place on 30 June – 5th July.