Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Growing for Taste at Hampton Court

Panting to make you weep with joy at The Garlic Farm

I was immensely excited to be granted a press pass to Hampton Court Flower Show this year, mainly as I had never been to this show before and I was interested to compare it with Chelsea which I have been involved with at work for years.

The show at Hampton Court is enormous and I really was not prepared for the amount of stalls and stands selling what can, kindly, be described as garden accoutrements. But at least now if I need a metre tall dragon breathing fire and made of metal I shall know where to go. If I'm honest I felt a tad overwhelmed by the sheer size of it and was very glad to have Emma Bond with me.

Now I could go on all day about what I did and didn't enjoy, and there will be subsequent posting once I've finished giving it thought, but the marquee that I adored far beyond anything else was the Growing For Taste marquee.

Walking in the first thing seen was the garden created by The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight which went on to win a gold medal and best exhibit in the marquee. To quote Emma Bond, "the planting made me want to weep", as it was a stunning mix of Verbena bonariensis at the back, coming down to flowering Elephant Garlic and Ammi majus. There was a beautiful white rose in the mix as well and this all surrounded a seating area which was set for lunch. On the roof of the seating area were garlic bulbs drying in lines of different hues and all in all it was somewhere I could have sat for hours. It was amazing.

Garlic bulbs can be ordered for atumn delivery at www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk

Lunch at The Garlic Farm

Blackmoor Fruit

Blackmoor fruit also had created a wonderful display, showcasing how easy it is to include fruit growing in the smallest of spaces, such as a front garden. I really enjoyed seeing the different fruit training techniques used as well as the use of containers I also loved the use of the walls for training the plants against as its a very useful thing to remember is possible no matter how small the space you have is. They send out plants by mail order and I can personally vouch for them as I have bought several things all of which have arrived very quickly and established well. www.blackmoor.co.uk

Beehive composter and glasshouse at Pennards

Pennard Plants, as usual had a wonderful display of crops growing in raised beds in a real vintage style garden. It's no secret that I love this style but I have to say I often think Pennards are overlooked as their stands are always fantastically put together and the plant material always top quality.

Raised beds at Pennards

Plus I really believe that many people think that to grow food of any kind that you need lots of space and all the stands showed, very clearly, that that really isn't the case and that any space can be made suitable for some sort of edible plants.

Herbs and Beans Christmas cropping display
Herbs and Beans are a nursery that are new to me and I was particularly impressed by the way in which the stand was set out, showing what type of herbs and vegetable to grow for different purposes, for example to attract bees. The most brilliant section was the section that was named Leafy crops for Christmas which showed a variety of crops to plant in August/September that will crop throught to December and possibly beyond.

 But finally I must talk about the Otter Farm stand. Anyone who follows Mark Diacono on Twitter knows what a great and funny guy he is, and as I had hounded him to follow me, which bless him he did, I was excited to see what he had produced. Otter Farm is the countrys first climate change farm, growing crops which may end up being the norm in the years to come (as long as this year doesn't become the norm and we all revert to growing crops that enjoy the deluge). So I expected interesting plants, but I wasn't expecting the beauty and lushness of the planting. There were fruiting apricots and nectarines, lush growth from Japanese gingers, amazing Egyptian Walking Onions and the most amazing mature Sechuan Pepper that was at least 8ft tall and would make a beautiful multi stemmed tree in a small garden that couldn't cope with anything much larger.
Sechuan Pepper
But what The Otter Farm stand really showed is that Forest Gardening can be not just productive but absolutely beautiful as well and that an awful lot is possible in a relatively small space. So follow Mark on Twitter (@MarkDoc) and watch out for any talks or courses he gives as he's a very interesting chap who knows an awful lot as well as being quite funny, very amusing and charming.

Otter Farm provide mail order plants and seeds www.otterfarm.co.uk, where Mark also writes a great blog
The stunning Otter Farm Stand

Oreganum Beauty of Kent

And finally I would just like to show you this plant. It's called Origanum Beauty of Kent and the bracts look like hop flowers. And its available from Pennards Plants who do mail order at www.pennardsplants.com and is just absolutely stunning. They are also available at the show.


  1. Nice one. I thought the garlic far outdid themselves this year :)

    This post contgains salad, so I'll link in the next Salad Days feature if I may?

  2. Love your blog - the Otter Farm display sounds great, and I hear he does a fantastic line of fruit cocktails too!