The RHS Flower Festival is returning to Hampton Court Palace, from today until Saturday 9 July. I’m ashamed to admit that this year will be my first time visiting the six-day event.
The hardcore horticulturists all say that Hampton Court is their favourite flower show of the year.
I’m told it’s more spacious than other famous shows, it is a show for gardeners by gardeners and among the exhibitors are a whopping 78 plant nurseries exhibiting everything from cacti to clematis with plenty of opportunities for plant shopping, too.
Here’s what I will be making sure to see.
There are 20 show gardens to see, from festival first-timers to show garden stalwarts.
Among the latter crew is the Iconic Horticultural Hero feature garden of 20-time gold medal-winner Sarah Eberle, who has created a walk-through world tour of plants that have health benefits or other practical uses.
The sustainable landscapes featured include rainforest, arid environment and exotic meadows.
Sponsored by the Guild of Landscape Architects of Ukraine, the What Does Not Burn Global Impact Garden, designed by Victoria Manoylo and Carrie Preston, features the remains of a burnt-out cottage silhouetted in a landscape of barley and field weeds.
Inside the cottage, a Ukrainian tryzub sculpture is a symbol of rebirth and an expression of hope amid the ongoing horror of the war in Ukraine.
And in the Get Started Gardens section, look out for Turfed Out. Designed by Hamzah-Adam Desai, the garden is intended to be a blueprint for a beginner gardener in a new-build property, with a garden that is low maintenance, cost-effective, climate-friendly and packs a punch with a pink and purple colour scheme.
Daisy Roots Perennials
If you are looking for the toughest drought-resistant perennials in town, go find Annie Godfrey, owner of Daisy Roots Perennials. Look out for the fireworks of silver from the grass, Stipa barbata and spikes of purple flowers on Agastache ‘Blue Boa’ in their exhibition.
Salvias do exceptionally well in London gardens, enjoying the city microclimate, often flowering well into winter, and Middleton Nurseries has some of the best. Among the classics like Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ and ‘Amistad’, keep your eyes peeled for new introductions such as ‘Pink Amistad’ and ‘Angel Wings’.
If succulents are more your thing, take a look at Cornish Nursery Surreal Succulents, showcasing what can be grown in the smallest of (sunny!) outdoor spaces, as well as a range of plants that will thrive indoors. If you’re a real succulent nerd, ask them about x Semponium ‘Sienna’, winner of Plant of the Year at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Flowers after Hours
This year for the first time there is the opportunity to experience the show gardens after hours. As the sun sets, embrace the floral festival vibes with a silent disco showdown featuring DJ/gardener Greg James and Musician Fleur East, food from River Cottage and a host of live music acts and interactive workshops.
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Festival runs from July 4-9. Tickets for the first two days are reserved for RHS members, with the festival opening to the general public from Wednesday onwards.
Tickets are still available, starting at £33.85, from rhs.org.uk