Friday, 8 July 2011

Hampton Court Palace

Yesterday, sister and I went off on a jolly. To a Royal Palace no less!

For the last few years, we have visited the Chelsea Flower Show in May but this year, when I saw the tickets were £48 (plus the inevitable dreaded booking fee), I really thought this was an awful lot. We decided to try something different and plumped for the RHS flower show at Hampton Court Palace (tickets £29 by the way!) It's a huge site, very different in feel from Chelsea which is all shoe horned into a small space, and was quite a walk just to get in to the flower show. Sadly, the weather was absolutely dreadful! On the other hand, there was no denying that this is a wonderful place with beautiful buildings and gardens at which to marvel everywhere you look. Lucky old Henry VIII!

In we go then, and as I say, this flower show has the luxury of space so there is an awful lot to pack in to a day (not helped when you've spent the whole morning in nearby Creative Quilting in East Molesey!) The show is very spread out, which on the one hand means you do a lot of walking (sometimes in mud thanks to the downpour) but on a distinctly more positive note, the show feels so much less crowded than Chelsea where you do get a bit sick of being elbowed by the Hooray Henrys trying to get to the show gardens! We felt this show was very unpretentious, full of real gardeners.

We wandered past some of the show gardens. Some modern...

We noted that the planting here was a lot more exuberant than Chelsea where everything is "oh so tasteful" and purple and white.

Even where the structure of the garden was modern, the planting was a lot more colourful which was pleasant to see.

I loved elements of this one, the planting was beautiful, lots of cottagey favourites.

Ohhh so cute.

There is also much to shop for at this flower show. There is a whole marquee organised by Country Living which is a bit like visiting one of their shows in miniature.

Outdoors, there was a huge number of stalls with items for sale, from little garden ornaments to the rather sublime investment purchases (thought of you , Louise!)

What also set this show apart was the opportunity to purchase plants. Now I know it may seem ridiculous to say that at a flower show you could buy flowers, but at Chelsea, plants are not for sale, only display, until the grand plant sell-off on the last day. Here at Hampton Court, there were numerous wonderful displays outdoors by nurseries who had whole stands of potted plants for sale at very reasonable prices, too. Equally in the floral pavilion, most of the stall holders had an extensive collection of plants for sale. Everywhere, there were visitors with little trolleys with boxes on, packed full of beautiful plants. Yipee!

I find it very hard nowadays to buy these lovely old fashioned single hollyhocks which have largely been replaced by their frillier double-flowered cousins which do nothing for me. Sadly, despite all I have just said, there were none for sale and the seeds were sold out. Drat!

I bought three dahlia plants for a very reasonable £7.50. How can you not be tempted when you see displays like this...

Oooh, delphs.

There was a whole marquee devoted to the subject of grow your own and outside, the vegetables were quite startlingly large, like something out of a Ladybird book story!

Everywhere, the visiting plant nurseries had set up really stunning displays.

There was another marquee where fashion shows were taking place and there were displays of floral art. The theme was the 1960s.

I rather liked this homage to Hilda Ogden!

We saved the best until last.

With a theme of Alice in Wonderland set to the backdrop of all the visiting rose nurseries, this was a delight.

David Austin's stand is always a must for me.

This beautiful rose is "Summer Song" and has an unusual colouring as well as a delightful scent. Need to find a space in the border for that one...

Apuldram Roses also had a beautiful display of some unusual varieties with amazing colours.

Peter Beales' stand is always amazing too and the scent heavenly.

Like I said, there is a lot of ground to cover at this flower show (and lots of purchases to carry) but there are two bandstands and plenty of seats with pretty good food stalls nearby so that you can rest awhile.

And at the end of the day, you can hop onto a nearby river boat to take you and your purchases back to the station. How very civilised!


  1. I have never been to Hampton Court although our daughter has been there on a school trip it looks like a lovely day out and the gardens and flowers are spectacular - what a wonderful day out despite the rain! Where has the sunshine gone!

  2. Gorgeous photos Hen! I'm looking at the grey clouds here and wondering when our garden will get any attention :(

  3. I think you picked the right flower show there! I had no idea Chelsea was so expensive, I've never been to it but this one looks absolutely glorious! Thanks for brightening up my friday morn with such beauties. :)x

  4. what a fab day out hen......looks a much better show than chelsea. i too love the david austin roses and just bought the mortimer sackler which has the most dense pink rose with a glorious old fashioned smell...heaven

  5. Ooooh it looks wonderful there. I've been watching a little of the show on telly but to be there must have been amazing.

    The photo's you have taken are wonderful I particularly like the Alice in wonderland theme stand.

    Leah x

  6. wow what a wonderful day out! such beautiful flowers and displays,thats got to go on my 'to do' list!juliexxxxx

  7. Ahhhh love the madhatters tea party, and some of those blooms are to die for....wishing my garden was as plentiful right now, rather than windswept and a little bald...oh dear!
    Nattie x

  8. Beautiful photos I particularly like the one of the cloulds over the water and the little white pavilions. What a wonderful day.

  9. ooohh wow, looks like a really lovely day out. I'd especially like the Alice in Wonderland theme, can't beat a pink themed tea party!


  10. I'm just about to go watch it on tv!

    I have been many times, so thanks for the snaps!

  11. Looks like you had the most wonderful day.
    Julie xxxxxx

  12. Fantastic comparison of the 2 events!

    Victoria xxx

  13. What a fab day out! Added to spending time with your sister! A day out with my sister is one of my favourite ways to spend time.
    Love your blog, by the way!

  14. I've never commented on your blog before, but it's always the first one I check as it's so cheerful and colourful and we share a love of quilts and all things vintage and pretty! My garden is a riot of those single hollyhocks at the moment and I'll gladly send you (and anyone else who wants them) some seed when it's ready. I don't have a blog but I think you can contact me via my Google a/c.

  15. Ooh! Looks fab, I really must go next year, as it's just up the road! I'll ask my sister in law as she's a great gardener!
    PS we went to the ice rink last winter.. It was a real wonderland!

  16. Thanks Hen for that lovely trip, M's sister lives in East Molesley and I still haven't been to Hampton Court yet, the nearest was sitting on the river bank opposite with a picnic watching the boats.
    Also I would like to say that what a lovely suprise to flick open H&A to spy a little chap that I recognise! A very pretty article, well done.
    T x

  17. I will gladly send you some seeds if you like, I have a peach pink, a dark red/black and a lovely pink pink, I can send you some photos if you like and you can choose. I think you meant Hilda Ogden and not Duckworth (that was Vera)...unless of course I am being stupid and missed something! Not difficult for me I assure you. Dev aka fairyglade. (am having terrible problems with blogger at the moment, driving me mad)!

  18. Hen, I shall send you some hollyhock seeds later this year, they grown like weeds in the back lane and they are the proper old fashioned ones! I cant believe Chelsea is £48 these days! I was moaning about The Malvern show being pricey and its nothing near those prices, crikey!
    Lovely photos, I think the Hampton show is on at the best time of year. x

  19. Dev, you are so right, thank you! What was I thinking with poor old Hilda!
    Hen x

  20. I have never been (but have been Tatton) thankyou for showing us your photos!

  21. Hen, no matter about the sogginess underfoot, your visit to this beautiful garden show is magnificent.

    Wow! And I see that some earlier commenters have got some seeds to offer you. Isn't this sharing the best part of being enthusiastic gardeners?

    Love the rosy skirt in that photo. Did you make it?


  22. Hello from California! Thank you for sharing all your lovely pictures. I'm really enjoying them.

  23. Didn't go this year but didn't need to after reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.
    Pleased you enjoyed Creative Quilting. Can never go in there without spending money !!!

  24. What a lovely show. My first job was at Historic Royal Palaces (I worked at the Tower of London in press/marketing) and we worked closely with the Hampton Court staff. One year I got to go to the flower show and work on our stand. It was a fabulous day, I remember particularly loving the Daily Mail marquee that had an entire cottage and a beach made from shells inside it. Wonderful. The water gardens are amazing too aren't they.

    Shame the weather wasn't better for you. Looks like you had a great day though.
    Have a lovely weekend - off to read H&A and enjoy your lovley home again!

  25. Thanks for the post - I've often fancied going to Hampton Court and it sounds as if it's definitely recommended.
    Congrats on the Homes and Antiques feature too - I bought the magazine, but before I got the chance to read it, a friend borrowed it - but I'll get it back in a day or two and look forward to reading all about your collections xx

  26. Hampton Court is always an excellent show- some of my best plants have come from there.A really good day out and though I go with a quilting friend and we start with the best intentions, we've never managed to fit in the East Moseley quilting shop as well- you clearly have way more stamina than us!

  27. My sister will be visiting from across the U.S. in a few weeks, and you have inspired me to take her somewhere very special. Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us! You always have the best trips.

  28. What a lovely day out! Your pics gave a real flavour of the event and I enjoyed them very much. Particularly liked the gypsy caravan and the Alice displays.

    Dawn xx

  29. Hello lovely Hen! I too was enthralled by the Country Living Marquee. I love seeing events through someone else's eyes when I was there too! We both picked out Summer Song as a highlight! Great Minds. I shall get my pics posted up later in the week. So lovely to see your cottage featured in Homes and Antiques ~ it looked so pretty and cosy, you must have felt such a burst of pride when you held your copy for the first time!
    Have a lovely week,

    Sarah x

  30. Just beautiful!
    I soooo want to visit Hampton Court and the show!

  31. Lovely photos. It looked like a lovely, colourful and scented day. I can see why you liked the Alice in Wonderland theme. I love the tall cottage flowers, and of course the shepherds hut!!
    louise x

  32. Beautiful! The gardens in pictures 7 and 8 are my favorites. It makes me want to go plant shopping. (what doesn't?! :D) I bought some hollyhock seeds this year and not one of them sprouted! I feel extra sad about that now seeing those gorgeous ones. How is your garden coming along?


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