by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Just like in 2011 I paced my visit to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012 over two days, the Press Day and the first official day.
The effect of the recession, and the government's claim that we are all but out of it definitely does not wash, could also be seen at this year's show in that a number of garden tool manufacturers and vendors, as well as others, including many seed merchants, were conspicuous by their absence.
While the likes of Burgon & Ball, Harrod Horticulture, Bahco, and others were represented through themselves at Chelsea 2012, unlike 2011 where after Chelsea they also came to Hampton Court this year they did not.
On Monday, the Press Day, the weather was not very conducive to a visit to any event in an open field. It was gray in gray overcast for much of the morning and day, with but some sunny spells, and they were few and far between, and a heavy downpour at around 10am.
A marquee came to my rescue, however, and Dobies Seeds from Devon had laid on tea and scones with Devon cream for the Press Corps, and a goody bag. So having to escape from the rain did have its benefits, in this case.
The weather was also not much better on the Tuesday (nor for the rest of the week, though I was not there then) but this did not deter the ardent RHS show visitor, as they were there in large numbers. While, however, Chelsea had been sold out in advance and no tickets could be had at the door, at Hampton Court it would appear that tickets were still to be had.
The show garden, the largest one, “Urban Oasis”, which was created in conjunction with “Groundwork” and the RHS, and sponsored by Marks & Spencer, at the show, was a good example as to how to improve the bleak areas that seem to exist on far too many housing estates in our urban areas. And not just there for even housing estates in small rural towns can be nearly if now even equally bleak.
Too little thought from the side of the councils or housing associations has ever gone into making the areas more inviting and if they did anything then they imposed it on the residents without any consultation. All bleak and uninviting areas do is invite vandalism and other criminal activities. Greening is one of the best ways to do prevent than and to make such green areas places where people want to linger.
The model of the “Urban Oasis” with its various suggestions and sectors, and one could implement them all on estates, appears to be very much the answer to the bleak areas on estates, it is necessary in all instances, however, to get everyone, including children and young people, on board for this to work and for them to take ownership of this.
The “Low Cost – High Impact” gardens were virtually all a good source of inspiration to all those that think that to create an inspiring garden takes lots of money (and time). Those very much stood out in contrast to all the other show gardens which it would be nigh impossible to recreate, even on a small scale, without a second or even third mortgage.
Conspicuous by their absence, this year at Hampton Court, just like at Chelsea this year, were the “Grow-Your-Own” gardens to inspire people to grow their own food, or at least part of it, with the exception of a couple of small ones in one of the tents.
It is probably thought that the last couple of years where “Grow-Your-Own” was relatively high on the agenda has given people ample opportunity and enough ideas and, I know, it really is meant to be predominately a flower show.
Whilst I am very much aware that there is now a “Grow-Your-Own” show based at Stoneleigh Park it is not, in my opinion, an ideal location as it cannot be easily reached, especially not by anyone wishing to not go by car.
Ecover's “Fantastic Plant-astic” campaign – Ecover was the main sponsor of the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year – could easily be misunderstood by people leading them to believe that the plant-based plastic bottles that Ecover is beginning to employ are biodegradable or even compostable. But they are not. They are still plastic, albeit made from ethanol derived from sugar cane waste. However, it is still a variant of HDPE.
The weather, as mentioned before, put somewhat a damper on things at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012, as far as I could sense, but the main problem, I would say, is the recession being still very much in full flow and people and companies do not have the budget.
In addition to this 2012 is not really much of a gardening year – at least not so far and even if it improves, and the forecast does not make it appear thus, the season for sowing and planting is over – with the weather being as it is and much of what people have put down, especially as to food growing, has not come up. Let's hope for better when we head for 2013.