Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Friday, 20 February 2009

RHS London Plant and Design Show


Wednesday saw this wide eyed country mouse head off to the big city to peruse the goodies at the RHS London Plant and Design Show. There's been a lot of criticism lately of the RHS' decision to cut the number of London events, so I was keen to see whether this had translated through into the show itself. It hadn't - plenty of people were there and the nurseryman I spoke to was happy with the RHS' event publicity (it had been poor in the past apparently), the show's quality and how this translated into sales at his stand. He predicted if this trend continues, then the recent falloff in exhibitors should be reversed.

The above collage gives you a flavour of the show - click on the picture to enlarge it if needed - the 2 largest pictures are an overview of Lindley Hall where most of the nursery exhibits were sited, plus part of Capel Manor College's show garden in nearby Lawrence Hall. The 3 pictures at the top right are close-ups of the delicious Hepaticas on display, plus Narcisus 'Mite Be' which I was very tempted by, until I was told they cost £6 per bulb. I must have put on my 'expensive good taste' head for most of the day as the first plant I enquired after (the gorgeous Edgworthia chrysantha on Capel Manor College's show garden) was also rather dear, but luckily for me had been sold already.

The last 4 pictures at the bottom right show overviews of the Hepaticas and snowdrops displays plus another show garden and a very cluttered balcony. The snowdrops were particularly welcome as I was able to look at 100s of different Galanthus cultivars without having to lie down flat on my tummy to see their differences. Whilst they all were indeed beautiful, I did fall in love all over again with plain and simple G. nivalis and G. nivalis 'Flore Pleno', so I wasn't persuaded to shell out pots of cash for a single bulb of a more select cultivar.

I'm pleased the RHS is trying out different themes for their London events - this one was design. This resulted in 3 show gardens and about 7 balcony gardens being shoehorned into Lawrence Hall and I was particularly keen to meet up with The Ecospot's Claire Potter. Her The Electric Urban Orchard was grabbing a lot of attention, but she still had plenty of time for a good old chinwag with me. I was interested in the vertical garden solution in her design as I've been pondering something similar for my fence project. She pointed me in the direction of her supplier where I had the most refreshing of chats: a professional who's not afraid to say when the proposed solution is overkill - instead I came away with some simpler, more cost-effective ideas of what to do: they won't bring my fence down either.

I loved the humorous There's a Leek in My Balcony and whilst it isn't a design I'd necessarily use in the format shown, I have been busily thinking about putting some different small containers on my fence to hold salads and herbs since Wednesday, so definitely an idea to nick and adapt! I also liked the clipped juniper used to add height to the lower, more restrained balcony design. Both illustrate that a simpler, more unified scheme is effective. I do like the balcony gardens idea - it's a hard brief to do well and can be used as an introductory piece into the world of garden design or show gardens.

Sadly I missed the show's other blogging visitors as they went on Tuesday. Deb met up with her friend Claire prior to their showgarden reunion at Malvern in May; Julia has particularly fine shots of the outside and inside of Lawrence Hall over at her blog and Arabella has a full and frank commentary on events, particularly the balcony gardens and the restorative powers of retail therapy. She's also included a shot of one of the balconies I forgot to photograph, where I liked the three tiered planting solution used to disguise the balcony's railings. Again, another potential nickable idea for my fence, though the way the plants were held in place (the bottom 2 layers of plants were held in their pots at an angle) wouldn't translate into a more permanent feature.

On the whole, a fabby day out and one worthy of at least one other blog about it: tune in tomorrow, when I'll be revealing the bargains I found at the plant sell-off.

19 comments:

  1. LOVE the title of the seminar: "There's a leek in my balcony" totally hilarious!

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  2. What a great day out. Good to see the RHS can still mount a good show in these difficult times.

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  3. will be interesting to see about visitor numbers etc; I felt less motivated to go than before because I feel it's all gone a bit "down market" with show gardens etc but then I am a terrible ole snob, aren't I?

    Edgworthia! I just love it. There's a beautiful one at Kew. Beautiful perfume and fascinating looking flowers. yum yum. xxxx

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  4. I've bought two Edgeworthia in recent years (blame Chris Beardshaw for this extravagance as he waxed lyrical about it on the Flying Gardener many moons ago). Also lost both! Think they are commonly known as the paper bark tree, believe bank notes used to be made from them. I thought they would do OK with me as they are a close relative of the Daphne, and I have 3 happy specimens of that. Ah well

    There's a beauty under the windows at RHS Wisley too on the Lab building (the one by the large formal pond)

    Glad to hear you had a good day - I recall the snowdrop displays from visiting there last year before the changes, just beautiful.

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  5. Thank you for a lovely review of the show, for those of us unable to go. Perhaps fewer shows are generating more media interest and therefore people going to them. I look forward to your next post(s?).

    Best wishes Sylvia

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  6. sounds a great day - now when i stop working I might be able to get to the RHS shows where I would wish to spend the money I am no longer earning!

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  7. i admire your strength when it came to holding the financial line :) it does seem that the bulbs i fancy have prices which make my left eye twitch.

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  8. Oh.. I thought I had posted earlier but it hasn't come through. I love the hepaticas you have pictured and bought the white one and I'm hoping the other one turns out to be the dark pink. With unusual efficiency I planted them out today. I'll be interested in the progress of your vertical planting.

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  9. Love the hepaticas and the snowdrops. it has just made me realise I don't have a single snowdrop in the garden. I'll have ot remedy that.

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  10. Hi Guyz - it's still making me giggle even now ;)

    Hermes - I think it was smaller by all accounts but well worth the visit all the same

    Emmat - I also popped into the Lindley library and found your Darwin article in Kew magazine :)

    Zoe - Edgeworthia is rather tender and yes, it is known as the paper bark tree. Seeing you've managed to lose two of them and I've lost a Daphne, perhaps it's just as well I didn't buy one

    Sylvia - thanks and I hope you like tomorrow's post

    Elizabethm - that's exactly what I'm going through at the moment!

    Petoskystone - I crumbled at the last minute. Who can resist the bargain plant sell off I wonder?

    Arabella - weren't they the best of a veritable sweetie shop of gorgeousness?

    HM - you must remedy that immediately. I recommend some in the green ones from Anglia Bulbs

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  11. Thanks for the low down VP. It sounds as if it was a most interesting day out. I am most taken with that little narcissus. Maybe the price will fall in time. Looking forward to hearing about your plant bargain buys :)

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  12. Hi Anna - I'm hoping that lovely little Narcissus will come down in price too. Not too long to wait now for the plant show and tell!

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  13. Thanks for the peek inside a London flower show. It'll be interesting to compare that with the one I'll be going to in Chicago in a couple of weeks.
    I am just drooling over all those Hepaticas! I was smug because I had 2 species - hah. I must have more.

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  14. MMD - the Hepaticas were gorgeous. I hope you find some at your show. Looking forward to hearing how you got on :)

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  15. I suppose adding themes & show gardens will increase visitor numbers. I wouldn't want too many plant stalls squeezed out though.
    I was planning to go but ended up with a trip to the dentists and having to wait in for a delivery from IKEA instead :-(

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  16. Hi VP, It looks like a wonderful event...and you came home with some great 'finds'. Hope you'll enjoy them in your garden.
    And I couldn't help but notice your LOVELY collage! I guess you've figured out Picassa. Not hard, really. Your photos are fabulous...as are the plants and blooms within them;)

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  17. EG - that's a shame - it would have been great to have met up. I can't compare re the number of stands. There was plenty to satisfy me - good quality ones too.

    Jan - thanks! I do like playing around with collages and the recent picassa upgrade means there's even more to play with!

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  18. Hi, missed it this year so thanks for the write-up. Don't suppose you have any photos of the Leek on my Balcony do you? Am always looking for space-saving edible growing ideas and this sounds rather intriguing...
    x

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  19. Alex - welcome! I hope you can make use of the photos :)

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