|Gardening With Caro|
Hampton Court 8th - 13th July
People come from far and wide to get to Hampton Court Flower Show, so if we West Londoners can’t make an attempt at it, seems a bit churlish, don’t you think?
Now I realize that gardening shows are not for everyone, but Hampton Court does make a stab at Real Gardening in a way that Chelsea doesn’t. Think John Lewis versus Harrods. Plus, while we’re on this shopping metaphor – you can actually get stuck into some serious Retail Therapy. Just don’t go mad and buy one of those annoying plastic wheelie cart things that bang into everyone else’s shins.
It’s a well know secret that everyone really likes Hampton Court much more than Chelsea. Same ridiculous number of people, but loads more space, places to picnic, lots of shopping, floral marquees (blooming great tents filled with extraordinary displays of flowers from all round the world), more shopping, time for a glass of Pimms, bit more shopping, then home to put your feet up and wonder where, exactly, you’re going to put those impulse buys.
Nearly forgot – there are loads of gardens to see, too. There are big intricate gardens, water gardens, little bite sized gardens, and now there are Conceptual Gardens (edging a little out of the John Lewis door towards Designers Guild). This year the Conceptuals are based on the Seven Deadly Sins which sounds like fun. Although I suppose it shouldn’t.
Also, a category they came up with a few years ago – some supposedly Affordable Gardens – this year they are called “Your Garden Your Budget”, which frankly is a bit of a stretch, but is at least a nod in the direction of reality, as opposed to the thousands of pounds needed to produce one of the big show garden numbers, rather beyond the budgets of most ordinary folk.
But actually most people don’t come looking for a whole garden to buy. The best way to treat the day is as a huge tin of Quality Street – riffle through for the things you like, maybe try something different, luxuriate in the variety of choice and definitely overdo it.
Word of warning – if you have something sniffy to say about the garden, try to make sure that the designer isn’t the one standing two feet away from you. They’re human too, mostly.
There’s a whole heap of ticket prices depending on the day and the time of day you choose – see the RHS website here for details.
You get a bit of discount for booking in advance, but you can just take your chance and turn up on the day. Or if you want to go the whole hog, you can book a combined ticket for the show and the palace too (from Thursday onwards).