Hampton Court Flower Show: Wet and Green

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is being held in the rain this year and visitors are being warned to wear their wellies because the mud is muddy. The green, as in environmental, theme is prevalent in a surprising number of the display gardens with the emphasis on drought tolerant plantings. The big show stopper is the 1966 Bentley, standing on end and filled with plants. Created by the surprise winner at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, a 77 year old eccentric who had never been to a flower show, let alone make one, it is a statement about the environment: an honourable retirement for "a petrol-guzzling, fume-emitting dinosaur".

In a hopeful note for the future, children took the big awards this year. In the Learning Outside the Classroom garden (winner of the Tudor Rose Award), children from more than 30 schools grew plants and made scarecrows for the fruit and veg areas, mobiles stuffed with nesting materials and a giant spider sculpture.

In the much smaller but equally inventive Learning to Look After Our World garden, (Best Small Garden) the children of Alton Infant School made mosaic stepping stones, used left over building materials for the path and filled wellington boots with flowers. It even includes live chickens, because they have them at the school.

The Wildlife Garden in a Skip (pictured) is a sustainable garden, created with left-overs from the Chelsea Flower show and using drought tolerant planting and a range of herbs, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses with nectar-rich flowers or seed heads to attract insects and birds. A solar-powered shower running into an old bath tub is at its centre.

The Full Frontal Garden provides a novel way of accommodating cars and having a garden at the same time. A fern pit covered by a grating, with no concrete in sight, gives cars a place in the front garden without loosing any planting space. The rest of this small garden includes drought-tolerant planting with many herbs.

Mangetout is an edible medicinal garden with climbing beans, peas and artichokes for structure and form, delicate fennel and stalks of chard. To end: The Fallen a conceptual garden created by new young designers. It is a cemetery of plants that are now extinct in Great Britain--there are Portland stone tombstones, each one with the name of an extinct species. The stones are surrounded by wildflower and meadow plantings. :: Royal Horticultural Society

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