Look out for the wheelie box! Notes on Hampton Court

They were everywhere – “wheelie boxes” being pulled along the metal pathways at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Their plastic wheels grated on the washboard walking surface, making a constant “grrrrrring” as gardeners made their way around the show.

No need to worry about gardening being dead. Yes, there were plenty of veg displays, but those wheelie boxes were filled to the brim with all sorts of plants – Helenium, Phlox, Veronica, ornamental grasses and … was that a Cercis?

It was warm and muggy; some of the display tents were like saunas. A blast of hot air hit us as we neared the entrance to the Country Living marquee, causing us to veer at the last moment. “There were lovely things in there,” a woman commented in the queue for the train. I’m sure there were, but I couldn’t have stood it. I did, however, put up with the heat to see the floral marquee – who could resist those flamboyant displays awash in chrysanthemums, sweet peas, bougainvilleas, fuchsias and pelargoniums.

I’m a terrible eavesdropper and so I report with relish the comments I hear at shows and nurseries. For starters, here’s one Hampton Court attendee as she passed one of the “conceptual gardens” (a pile of sand with some plants coming out of it):

“I’m sure it’s supposed to mean something.”

More Hampton Court in part 2.

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