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Hampton Court Flower Show 2009. A great day out.

Photo: Strawberries

Photo: Strawberries

Although it’s almost a twelve hour round trip, I wouldn’t want to miss the final day of the Hampton Court Flower Show. Danny always gives me two tickets as a Valentine’s Day present. Fills his company car with diesel and happily waves me goodbye for the day.

He doesn’t do shows. I have tried taking him but within 20 minutes he is back in the car with a newspaper. He’s happy for about an hour overall and then he gets dramatically restive. He might not even survive a visit to the Hampton Court Flower Show.

It’s a great day out if you love gardening and all things related to your plot. Usually I go with Seraphina. Last year I went with The Chicken Lady and S on the Saturday – we looked at every stand. It took about five hours.

I much prefer going on the final day: Sunday.  At 16.30 stands can sell off their stock for an hour. If you are canny you can buy the best produce from the display stands and gardens. Until then the gardens have the air of something vibrant that is just about to end. I don’t know about you but I prefer to be in at the end of the event rather than the beginning. There is a bitter sweet quality that attracts me. Perhaps it’s because I was born in September – the main harvesting month in the UK.

 “I love going to Hampton Court. It’s so much more relaxed than Chelsea. And you don’t get all those corporate marquees bursting with people that are not really interested in gardening.”
Seraphina has a different opinion. “Yes but Chelsea has far many more experts in just one area. It’s the best show to visit to glean specific ideas for a particular type of plant.”
She may be right. But if you want general inspiration you can’t beat Hampton Court. I prefer the relaxed, larger show grounds of Hampton Court. I’m an amateur gardener after all.

As Seraphina and I are both interested in feeding ourselves (vegetable wise) we were drawn instinctively to the small “Growing Tastes Marquee” where we found The Garlic Farm (Isle of Wight) stand. I bought some garlic heads to plant in September. Last year the garlic heads from the same source did well with us considering that they were planted in poor soil. This year they are going into much more fertile beds and hopefully will develop. chubbier heads. Fine chunky specimens that can feed our massive garlic habit and a few dried to be confidentially replanted next autumn.

In the same marquee I spotted a company – Marshalls the vegetable seed and fruit specialist  – selling £17 worth of mid summer planting salad seeds for a fiver! These were being marketed from a tempting plot bursting with plants grown from the same selection of seeds.

I tried growing salad leaves for winter under fleece last year, but started it a month late, in October. The seeds germinated but just didn’t have the muscle to survive the first hard frosts. Now I’m going to start sowing them early (within the next month at three week intervals) and try again. There was a catalogue in the bag too for all year round vegetable plugs and tempting fruit bushes and trees. Well worth a Google, I think.

Seraphina and I agree that an outdoor retreat in the garden would be a boon. We love the old Shepherds’ huts (complete with stove) but adored a rounded eco den complete with an eco loo to compost the garden. Apologies – I can’t find details on the Internet. The ‘end of show’ price was £13.000. If I’d won a bit more on the Euro millions on Friday, I would have bought this haven. Instead I invested my £20 winnings in a couple of scented geraniums from the Wootens of Wenhaston stand and still have £15 to splash on compost for potting on our chilli plants.

  Leave a reply


  1. Every year I say to myself “I’ll go to Chelsea or Hampton Court” and every year I end up drinking tea on the sofa glued to the highlights!

    But your post has made my mind up. Next year I’m going to one or the other. No ifs or buts!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Helen

    We always struggle a bit with the plants and regret not buying one of those pink wheelie boxes!

    I have never used the ferry before but it made a big difference as it’s quite a long walk back to the bridge.

    Glad that you had a good day too.

    Hi Magic Cochin

    It’s definitely worth a visit. Next year we’re going to stay the night before.

    Hello Tamara

    Oh it’s well worth visiting next year, especially if you have somewhere to stay!

    Hi Diane

    How romantic it sounds (the early days of the HCFS).

    The Blashey flower show sounds fun.

    Hi Karen

    What a shame that it’s too far to visit.

    Delighted with the scented pelargoniums.

    Hello Kate(UK)

    Wootens is a great nursery.

    No I don’t have Chocolate Peppermint or Vodoo.

  3. kate (uk)

    Didn’t make it to Hampton this year, but really enjoyed it the past two years. I’ve bookmarked the page for Wootons- I’ve been after some new day lilies for ages. Thanks Fiona!
    Do you have perlagonium ‘chocolate peppermint”? Or ‘Voodoo”?

  4. Karen - An Artist's Garden

    My preference is for Hampton Court over Chelsea – but I live so far away and I quite miss not going.
    Glad you had a good time, and scented geraniums – such a worthwhile investment.

  5. Helen, Celia, Tamara and Diane,

    I have never been to Hampton Court Palace for the annual flower and garden show, but I can highly recommend it to any non-gardening hubby/partner as a guaranteed oasis of tranquillity for the one who remains at home – approximately 12 hours of peace & quiet. Well worth the price!

  6. I remember going to HFS before it became ‘famous’. We parked our car in Bushy Park and just walked through the Park and across the road. Not so clever when it came to home time as it was a long walk and we were usually loaded down with goodies! Living in Hampshire-by-the Sea now I miss HFS but am looking forward to the Bashley Flower Show this Saturday which is an old village tradition, and I just know the delphiniums will be longer and straighter than mine, the onions will be so large one would last us a week and the homemade fruit cake will be ‘out of this world’. Hmm,if only…..

  7. Tamara

    Darn it, now I feel bad. I really wanted to go but was thinking it’s a bit far for the day. (I’m not that far north from yourself) However a friend who lives only in Kingston emailed me to say what a wonderful day she had. She suggested I stopped with her the night before but I said I would not go as I was thinking about getting home on a Sunday night but really how silly of me. I’m making a note in the diary for next year, so thank you.

  8. magic cochin

    That sounds like a grand day out.

    I’ve never been to the HCFS – but it’s a spectacular setting so can imagine it feeling less crowded than Chelsea.

    Hope your garlic and salad leaves do well.


    PS made Nocino last night 😉

  9. I am so please you had a lovely day, I live in Egham so HCFS is not such a trip, OH is happy to come provided he is plied with ice cream and teas. He is also happy to carry, but this year I also surcumbed to one of those pink trollys (oh the shame). Our major booty were two milk parsley plants about 4feet tall, which were transported on the river boat to the station then walked over the bridge to the car park. Back at home the day was ended with Cricket a glass or more of fresh white wine

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