Sunday, June 30, 2013

RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

With summer looking nice and established at long last in the UK there are a number of large shows to entertain and delight, the summer show season kicked off with the Chelsea Flower show, and in just over a week the Hampton Court show starts, both are which are close to London. However further afield and towards the end of July is the Tatton Park Flower show. This will be a new show for us this year, and for me will be something of a "homecoming" as I grew up not far from Tatton in North West England. The Tatton Park show is set in the grounds of one of Britain’s most historic estates and the RHS describe the show as being "a stunning blend of inspirational gardening with all the magnificence and grandeur of a garden party." It is well worth seeing the rest of the garden at Tatton whist you are there.

The show has been given something of a makeover this year with the RHS introducing four distinctive 'zones', each with its own special atmosphere and flavour:

The Grow Zone is the floral heart of the show - with the displays of rare and familiar plants as well as the various nursery stands plus the RHS will be holding a number of hands-on demos.

The Inspire Zone contains many of the more contemporary ideas and show gardens, it will feature this  year’s Young Designer Gardens feature Eco Innovations and also the Galaxy Gardens.

The Feast Zone is a celebration of everything 'Grow your Own'! The zone takes you all the way from edible gardens and Great British Allotments to fruit and vegetable competitions, plot-to-plate demonstrations and the Great Taste Food Market.

The Escape Zone brings the seaside to the heart of Cheshire for this evocation of country and coastal living. It will also feature many of the shopping areas with everything from garden furniture to practical tools as well as over 100 artists and craftspeople.

Show Manager, Kris Hulewic commented 'Whether you are a seasoned horticulturist hunting for new plants or just starting out and looking for tips on gardening basics, there is no better place to be this July. I hope you enjoy the North’s greatest garden party!' 

As always much of our focus will be on the show gardens and with 30 show gardens at Tatton to explore hopefully there will be several to catch our imagination. The RHS has released the designs ahead of the show and we have picked a selection of the ones we will be particularly looking out for.

A Stainless Century
A Stainless Century celebrates the invention of stainless steel in Sheffield by Harry Brearley 100 years ago, and the impact this invention has had on the city and on the world. A central water feature depicts the flow of molten metal as it pours from a white hot crucible to form steel bars. A pergola and wall feature inspired by iconic buildings in Sheffield give height and demonstrate the structural and decorative qualities of steel. The planting reflects the theme with metallic-coloured foliage and flowers. Rusted steel accents highlight the impact that stainless steel has had in freeing the world from corrosion.

The Star Gazers Retreat
Located in a woodland glade, The Star Gazer’s Retreat houses a sedum-roofed observatory, which provides space to observe the stars by night and to relax and enjoy the garden and its wildlife by day. Home to an eccentric astronomer, the design features quirky sculptural elements inspired by outer space. The garden is entered via a planted star gate and encircled by a hydroponic living sculpture. It comes alive at night, when the nocturnal plants release their fragrance and the stars are reflected in the pool. The garden was inspired by an exhibition of the work of local astronomer and photographer Peter Shah, who captures inspirational photographs of the stars from his garden shed.

Splash is the perfect place to sit, relax and take a dip! The garden’s central feature is a splash pool, a playful water feature that is refreshing on a hot summer's day. The design has a fresh colour scheme that reflects and complements the splash pool. There are beds of aquatic plants within the pool and a raised planter along the right hand side of the garden. Planted borders wrap around the left hand side and trees add height.

Escape to the City
Escape to the City has been designed to deliver a message to garden owners; that you don’t have to compromise on design to have an ecologically diverse garden. The design makes use of bold, contemporary landscape features to provide structure, including a secluded shady seating area and a dry stone wall. The planting is lush and abundant, with lots of shade-loving plants, an area to grow your own produce and transparent screening provided by grasses and multi-stemmed Betula trees.

The Dirty Stop Out's Garden
This is a walled garden designed for people who want use their outdoor space whatever the weather. There is a lawn for sunbathing, a pergola dining area for entertaining, a covered area for wet weather and a pizza oven that provides heat and hot food to keep you going well into the evening. The chef of the family can find fresh produce in the edible border and a cutting border provides flowers for the home and gifts for friends. The green roof and the borders attract wildlife so you can sit at the table surrounded by flowers, butterflies and bird song.

Remember to Reflect
This garden is a space for quiet reflection. The underlying structure is a grid of overlapping squares that divide the space into three distinct sections: water, paving and planting. The pale, contemporary paving contrasts with exuberant planting that is full of texture and movement. Large stepping stones cross a sparkling, reflective pool to a seating area with a bespoke stone and timber seat, from where you can contemplate the garden. A raised planting bed encircles the seating area to create a sense of enclosure, whilst also providing a partial boundary with full height walls and openings that frame distant views.

Reflections of Japan
This garden is formed of two sections with the same layout but different design approaches. A Japanese-style garden scheme is mirrored by an anglicised alternative, showing how the Japanese way of using space and asymmetric balance can be applied in British gardens. The materials and plants used in the garden will be reused to create a Japanese garden at Bury Hospice after the show, the design of which will echo the Japanese section of the garden. Japanese-style gardens such as this work well in a healing or hospice environment.

The Mypod Garden
Space can be a problem in some homes and it can be hard to find privacy. The pod in The Mypod Garden provides a place to relax and unwind, giving people somewhere to go – an outdoor space of their own. The garden contains grasses, trees and moorland planting. A circular path with water rills and dry stone walls leads downwards to the, futuristic-looking pod, which is partly underground. The pod has a comfortable interior and LED lighting, making use of new technology to create a secluded retreat. The soft, muted tones of the garden contrast with the bright, vivid colours inside the pod.

Mu-No Thing

This garden is designed to highlight the awe-inspiring nature of a galaxy and the scientific rules that govern it. It consists of an elliptical spiral of raked gravel with a concave cross-section, through which there are planted clusters of individual foliage plants, grouped by colour. The whole garden is enclosed by a steel and wire vortex structure that rises three metres into the air. Inspired by Einstein’s theories concerning the curvature of  space/time, gravitational waves and the relationships between large and small particles in the universe, the garden is a reflection on the insignificance of mankind within a galactic context.

Getting There
Trains run between Manchester Piccadilly and Knutsford stations (journey time approximately 40 minutes). Knutsford station is a 10 minute walk from the Knutsford Gate entrance of the Tatton Park estate, and a courtesy bus service operates from the Knutsford Gate to the showground entrance and back (8.30am to 7.30pm Wednesday to Saturday, 8.30am to 6pm Sunday).

Tatton Park is well situated just 5 miles from Junction 19 on the M6, There is ample parking within the grounds of Tatton Park, free of charge. 

Tatton Park Flower Show runs from 25 July to 28 July and tickets can be obtain via the RHS website.


  1. It's clear that no one does garden shows like the British! I look forward to your pictures from the upcoming shows.

    1. We're lucky in that respect Kris, that there are so many garden shows here to choose from :)

  2. Some interesting designs there, but it's always interesting to see how much better they look in person.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    1. Indeed Cher, looking forward to seeing how they translate the designs into reality.

  3. Reading your blog is the next best thing to having an unlimited airline pass. Keep these tours coming!


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