RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Hartley Botanic

We were delighted to be asked to design the stand for Hartley Botanic for this years RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Having missed a year due to the pandemic, the pressure was on to deliver a stand that inspired visitors and show cased the lovely greenhouses that Hartley have to offer.

Having recently celebrated their 80th birthday, the theme for the stand was 'History and Heritage'. Five greenhouses were to be on the stand (the highest number they've ever had!) and each would represent a different era from the 1950's to modern day.

"Having recently celebrated their 80th birthday, the theme for the stand was 'History and Heritage'"

The Challenges

It's difficult to define the one single biggest challenge: it was well known within the industry that supply issues were pushing plant availability to its limits. Every landscaper and designer reported unprecendented demand which came on top of a bottleneck of imports from Europe thanks to Brexit and Covid.

Add in to the mix that the weather had been wreaking havoc with the flowering seasons (the coldest April in 99 years) with many plants originally several weeks behind. Then suddenly, a flurry of warmer weather saw things catching up. Meanwhile, this left us continuously trying to estimate which plants would be in flower come show week.

There were a variety of obstacles to overcome; not least rabbits eating the cabbages in the middle of the night!

The other major hurdle we faced was time. Normally the shows are a year in the planning; this allows all the details to be carefully considered ahead of the non-negotiable deadline. One of the main aspects that is usually arranged well ahead of time is the planting. There are several specialised nurseriies who will grow plants exclusively for shows. They take on the task of managing the plants to optimise bloom time to coincide with show week. Often this means rushing to protect them in cold weather or chill them during warmer spells. We had three months so the plants we were offered was our only option.

During build up, when we thought the majority of the challenges were behind us, we arrived on site one morning to see a set of prints across the (newly laid) paving....Peter Rabbit and his pals had had a buffet of cabbages and lettuce during the night. Luckily we'd grown plenty!

 

An aerial shot of the Hartley Botanic stand at Hampton Court Palace Garden Fesitival
An aerial shot of the trade stand at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival
Hartley Botanic's 'Terrace' greenhouse at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Festival.

 

The Semi-dodecagon greenhouse
Hartley Botanic's Dodecagon representing the 1950's

The Dodecagon

Hartley Botanic actually found this greenhouse in a client's garden! A true test of durability. Representing the 1950's, this greenhouse symbolises post-war Britain; frugal and self sufficient. Vegetables were limited to tomatoes and beans. The planting was all annuals: pelagoniums, celosia, and Heliotrope. We can see the appeal of a more simple time and that straw boater...

Hartley Botanic actually found this greenhouse in a client's garden! A true test of durability.

Outside, potted Hydrangeas sit in Terracotta pots; both very representative of the era.

 

 

 

 

The Wisley 8 Plant house

Representing the 1960's was the Wisley 8; we really enjoyed embracing this era with funky sun glasses and stylish seating. A geranium shelf showed the move away from simplicity. Cactus collections started to appear and the joys of gardening were more fully embraced.

"We really enjoyed embracing this era with funky sun glasses and stylish seating"

Vegetables grown weren't hugely different from the previous decade but variety had increased so cucumbers and a wider variety of beans were on display.

 

The Grow and Store

'The Good Life' was definitely spot on with the 1970s; with the arrival of supermarkets, the need to 'grow your own' decreased. The smaller growing area of this structure reflects that also.

The use of plastics hugely increased as did the choice of planting. Annuals included bedding salvias, busy lizzies and cineraria. Hanging baskets lined with moss were also popular.

The Terrace

This gorgeous greenhouse with a cute front porch, crestings and finials to the roof line, ornate staging and finished in 'Olive Leaf' was dressed to show case the 1990s. We filled it with orchids and an increased selection of vegetables.

A fig tree sat in one corner whilst a table and chairs set of Afternoon Tea was set at the opposite end.

 

We think we could easily lose hours in this structure if it were in our garden!

The Hartley 8 Plant house

We loved this green house! In a trendy black finish, we relished dressing it with sustainable pots and planters largely bamboo based.

A heavily scent from the orange tree filled the strucutre whilst internal planting included new 'bush' tomatoes and a selection of house plants.

Compost was peat free and vegan whilst pots and dressings were supplied from made.com and Sophie Allport. Bee bricks in the plinth of the structure were included also to allow solitary bees a place to nest.

The Plants!

The theme for the planting was warmer colours; this was largely dictated by the limitations mentioned above but we were thrilled with the end result.

The lovely tree shown in the image to the left is Acer cappadocicum 'Aureum' which was underplanted with shade loving plants including Hosta 'Frances Williams', Polystichum setiferum, Geranium nodosum, Astrantia major 'Shaggy' and Erigeron karvinskianus.

The remaining plant list included:

Achillea 'Coronation Gold'

Briza media

Hemerocallis 'Aten'

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus

Hydrangea 'Madame Emile Mouillere;

Kniphofia 'Bee's Lemon'

Mahonia 'Soft Caress'

 

 

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