Hampton Court Flower Show: Forgive our Flowery Language!
‘That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ Shakespeare was not wrong when he wrote those immortal words, but when confronted with ‘English Miss’, ‘St Ethelburga’ and ‘Copper pot’ one can’t help but feel that they do lend a certain Je ne sais quoi. To wade knee deep in roses is a very special thing indeed. The heady aroma wafting into a for-get-me-not sky and warmed by a daffodil sun. To experience Hampton Court Flower Show is to experience this. The problem with writing about it is knowing where to start. From show gardens to green houses, sculptures to succulents, straw hats to gardening gloves…. There is very little that this flower show doesn’t offer in abundance –all set against the backdrop of Hampton Court Palace, sprawling fields and the river Thames!
Close your eyes and imagine this…. well, don’t completely shut your eyes or else you won’t be able to read this article… but, nonetheless, imagine this… you are confronted by a huge white tent. People are eagerly funnelling in. You begin to follow and are immediately hit by the scent of roses. There is a reason that to compare a thing of beauty to a rose has become a cliché. It is because the rose is undeniably the king of the flowers. And it is as you are finally stood within this great marquee that you realise that this is what heaven smells like. Roses stretch from floor to ceiling, in every shape, colour and texture. Some in dusty pinks with antiquated edges others in bright sunny yellow. From every direction greedy noses reach for another bloom. Once one has made a full circuit of the tent you’ll find you have become a connoisseur of scent. ‘Oh no, I much preferred the pink one!’ ‘Now this! This red one is sublime!’
The entire show ground is filled with smatterings of show gardens. Willow structures were particularly popular, creating natural entwined shapes that merge seamlessly with their surroundings. Water also featured heavily with fountains and ponds creating a tranquillity even in the hustle and bustle. The main flower tent was awash with colour. Carnivorous plants and orchids bringing a touch of the exotic alongside hydrangeas and geraniums for those seeking the ‘cottage garden look’. With the sun beating down it was a good day to be an ice-cream van. Luxury Devonshire ice cream seducing even the most calorie conscious. While a 50s inspired group of singers gave a vintage twist to modern classics.
But it would simply not be fair to talk so much about the flowers and forget about the people themselves, for I have never seen such a concentration of beautiful floral dresses in all of my life! Hampton Court Flower Show goers are among the most well-dressed of them all. With full skirts and strings of pearls brushing trough the frondescence. Amidst the talk of ferns and foliage plays the music of compliments ‘Isn’t that a lovely hat?’ ‘That is just the MOST amazing skirt!’ ‘You’re so colour coordinated!’ Everybody is looking for beauty and they do not only find it in the flowers. This creates an atmosphere of such positivity that it is impossible not to be swept away by it.
Part of the beauty of Hampton Court Flower Show is that you can access it via a boat from the Thames. It gives both arriving and leaving a sense of the magical. The water baring you either up or down stream allowing you to slowly work your way towards or away from the Thames side palace. It is peaceful and reflective. And as I floated away, a new straw hat on my head and an arm full of flowers I was struck by the sense of calm that a day spent with flowers can bring. Hans Christian Anderson (the writer of many fairy tales and fables) once stated ‘Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower’ I can’t help but feel he was exactly right and it is at Hampton Court Flower Show that one will discover all three flowering unseen in the garden borders.
By Demelza Craven