If the Chelsea Flower Show is the sophisticated sister, her younger sibling is bigger, more daring – and definitely friendlier.
Here Linda Ross gives you her tips for turning a trip to Hampton Court Palace into a garden festival
Entrepreneur Adrian Boyd walked past Hampton Court Palace on his way to work every day, and the historic monument seeded the idea for a grand horticultural event. The first show bloomed to big success in July 1990, and the event was taken over by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in 1993. The July show date coincides with maximum summer growth, attracting a more practical gardening crowd than that drawn to the Chelsea Flower Show in May.
The best way to arrive at Hampton Court Palace is the same way King Henry VIII did – by boat, down the Thames. Turks’ elegant shuttle boats run from the piers at Kingston and Richmond, and are complete with on-board bars, so you’ll arrive feeling as festive as the flowers themselves.
While exploring the river and Richmond on a Turks shuttle boat, make a stop at this National Trust property where you’ll find a kitchen garden dating back to 1653, a box parterre, cherry garden, and river meadow.
This nursery, shop and restaurant is an easy walk from Ham House. Peruse everything garden-related, from seeds to tableware, and then enjoy a relaxed morning tea or lunch in the pebble-floored glasshouse restaurant. Stay calm while celebrity-spotting: Hello Madonna! Hello Elton!
This small park was once the burial place of the poor and unknown and is now a lovely oasis in the heart of London, with views of the river, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and ‘The Gherkin’. It features a beautiful perennial garden designed by brilliant Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf.
Petersham Hotel, Richmond: We stay here because we love getting the boat up the Thames to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show; and also because breakfast looks towards the river and the verdant Petersham meadows, complete with browsing Belted Galloways; and because the rooms are as charming as the location.
Why not come see for yourself? Sandra Ross is thrilled to be leading the Rose Gardens of England tour next year, including the Hampton Court Flower Show, and places are still available. To book your spot, or for information on this and any of our other tours call Ros or Royce at the Ross Tours office on 1300 233 200.
Get a discount on all tours, Access to Expert Advice, A Magazine Every Season, A Free Garden Class Or Workshop, 10% Discount At Nursery Partners, Access Our Online Database And Magazine Archive And Special Events For Members Only