Monday, June 25, 2012

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2012: Preview

Last Sunday was predicted to be another deluge of a day (surprise, surprise) with the Saturday being the better of the two so decided to do all our weekend gardening on the latter and visit the ongoing build for the coming RHS Hampton Court Flower Show on the former. Much to our delight Sunday turned out to be a mostly fantastically sunny day after all, which was a genuine surprise! And a bonus of course, not only do we get to have a sneak peek of the build of the show gardens but also bask in the warm sunshine in a fab location too.

'Discover Jordan'
Rain or shine we were really looking forward to going on Sunday. Due to work commitments we can't make it to the actual press day of the event but to have a look at the ongoing build beforehand would be just as interesting as it will give us a unique insight into the process of building a show garden. 

Hampton Court Flower Show under construction!

For this year a new show category is being introduced at Hampton Court and it's called World of Gardens wherein participating countries can showcase their unique heritage, flora, and landscape via show gardens. Each designer in this category takes inspiration  from the country that commissioned them and translate them via their garden design. 

One of the countries participating this year is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and we were invited by their tourism board to take a peak at the build of their show garden called 'Discover Jordan'. They have commissioned designer Paul Hervey-Brookes to come up with the design, and together with his team of contractors execute a beautiful show garden that will represent the unique heritage of this country.

Garden Designer Paul Hervey-Brookes (right) with some of his team
Paul and his team met us at the grounds of the build and gave us a tour of the show garden, explaining to us the brief of the design, concept, and a run down of the progress of the build along the way. It was fascinating to hear how he came up with the design and the ideas behind it all, coming up with a garden that we are taking a look at now and walking into as it is being built. The design was mainly inspired by the landscapes of the iconic Petra and Jordan river valleys.

Hard landscaping clearly dominates the design, with the garden seemingly composed of two parts tied together via an archway. The first half, with a luxuriant use of sandstone and limestone were mainly inspired by the Treasury and tombs of Petra.

Paul explaining the Islamic influenced rill, a discrete water feature which also signifies the importance of water in such a dry country.
An Islamic influenced water feature (take note of the huge slabs too which were custom cut for this garden)
Detail: Part of the design is the placement of a garden sculpture.
Detail: Columns inspired by Petra
Detail: Remains of a column
Detail: It's all part of the design!
And speaking of details, the attention to detail is superb. Take note of the deliberate cracks on the wall which were inspired by the ruins of Petra
The second half however (linked via the archway) is a bit more lush and richer in planting as inspired by the verdant landscapes of Wadi Dana.

The archway that leads into the second part of the garden
The archway from the other side
Detail: An altar within the archway
Planting will be more lush on the other side. Olive trees and Oleanders are already in, while other plants like Ricinus communis and Cistus salviifolius to be planted this week
We were very impressed with the progress, quality, and concept of the design and we are looking forward to seeing the finished garden during the actual event.

'Discover Jordan'
Whilst there we also had the chance to wander about and get a glimpse of the build of the other show gardens. It's interesting to note the relative calm of the place, everyone just getting on by with their work and still smiling along the way. Somebody else we had the chance to talk to remarked how everyone is helpful to one another. And that despite the seeming competition between the gardens there is a sense of camaraderie within the area. A very positive note indeed!

'The Azorean Garden'

'St. Petersburg Russian Museum Garden'
'The Swiss Alpine Garden'

Now that we've had a taster of this year's show we're really looking forward to the actual event and seeing how the gardens being built now have transformed into beautiful show gardens ready to inspire visitors. 

Mark :-)


  1. What fun to be able to watch so much of the process and get photos of the process. Looks fantastic already, I can just imagine what the finished product will be.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Hi Cher, it was fun to watch other people hard at work, made a change from the Saturday when we were busy working on the pond! We will take lots of photos of the finished garden when we visit the show once its open to the public.

  3. I'm glad the weather turned out nice. I see some dark clouds in your pictures! It certainly takes a lot of work to prepare for a garden show, though I rarely think about that when i am looking at the finished product!

  4. Fascinating, Boys and no crowds! The rill is lovely - reminds me of the Alhambra. Should be a superb garden when complete. D

  5. I love going to the build stage - great to see behind the scenes!

  6. Can anyone go to the 'build stage'? Looks fascinating.

  7. What a fantastic opportunity to see these complex show pieces being built! I'm so glad you took your camera along :-).

  8. Hey lucky you guys! What a treat to see behind the scenes like that. I look forward to contrasting these pictures with the finished garden when you return to the show (hint hint).

  9. Great to see a preview,I wasn't aware this was possible.I hope to see the show when it opens.

  10. Debs, Although there were quite a few dark clouds, we were lucky to escape without any rain at all, and mostly sunshine :)

    David, we are looking forward to seeing the finished Garden, and we noticed the Alhambra feeling too.

    VP, it was great to see everything coming together

    Libby, it was really interesting to see. We were kindly invited to visit the build by the Visit Jordan Garden Team.

    Hi Loree, we are looking forward to seeing the show, so we will take lots of photos!

    Richard glad you enjoyed the preview!

  11. Hello Mark and Gaz, A lovely sneeky peek behind the scenes - I just love the simplicity of the water rill, I hope it gets to be used somewhere else after the show.
    I normally just read your posts in my RSS feed, first time I have been to your site in a while and it looks great, love the clean formatting .
    Best wishes, Cat

  12. It is always lovely to see how a show transforms from scratch. Those are big projects and entails a lot of materials and labor. I love your treatment in exemplifying one garden here, and i am overwhelmed by the works, and the areas are wide too. I am excited to see the actual show here with your photos.

  13. Hi Cat, the water rill is really lovely, the tiled effect with the large stone slabs works well. Thanks for your kind comments on the blog too :)

    Andrea, It is really interesting to see the build early on, such a huge amount of work and attention to detail goes into these show gardens. Do look back when we post photos from our visit :)

  14. What fun to to get a peek behind the scenes like this! The amount of construction that goes into these gardens is quite breathtaking - fascinating post.

  15. Looks like it's going to be a good show. I'm often as interested in seeing the gardens under construction as I am in seeing the finished product. Such a lot of work to do a show garden.

  16. Karen, theres an amazing amount of work involved, and often teams of people working all over the site.

    Ryan, we are looking forward to seeing this one now its finished. Just heard they won a Gold Medal too.


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