Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Crazy paving, Skirret and a spot of Hugelkultur at RHS Hampton Court

Aeons ago, when I was six, crazy paving was de rigueur. Since then it has gone the way of Aubrieta and my all-time favourite boiled sweets, Spangles. While Aubrieta is enjoying a return to being a cool, must-have plant, I am still awaiting the resurrection of my beloved Spangles (my dentist is probably crying into her mouthwash at their sad demise and the resulting loss of income).
Memories of Childhood... rose gardens
As for crazy paving, if I were a betting gardener, I would say that we are on the cusp of a revival. For this we should thank Andy Sturgeon and his cleverly conceived RHS Hampton Court Show garden incorporating iconic elements from a decade of Chelsea show gardens. He has rummaged through other designers' sheds to find ex-Chelsea seating, paving, columns and fins to reuse (which makes my shed seem woefully dull with its clapped-out washing machine, a few sorry plastic plant labels, and the national collection of unpaired gardening gloves). Reliving memories of Chelseas past is fun, but even better is the beautiful modern take on crazy paving. It makes me want to smash up and relay my perfectly linear patio.
As we step back in time down our crazy paving paths, let us spare a thought for colour. Flower shows in the twenty-first century have flirted with a tasteful splash of orange, or a sprinkling of lemon in a sea of blues, whites and greens. The planting at RHS Hampton Court embraces colour clashes and reintroduces estranged sections of the colour wheel to one another in a glorious celebration of dazzling flamboyance. 
Tom Massey's giant colour wheel design
Charlie Bloom's Colour Box Garden sums this up perfectly. The garden exists because of the generosity of the Twitter community. Gardeners have always shared plants, knowledge, expertise and skill, and the Colour Box Garden is proof that this culture of generosity lives on in a new, broader-reaching twenty-first-century form.
Colour Box Garden
Relinquishing control and letting nature take its course does not sit comfortably with some gardeners, but it is at the heart of London Glades, a garden created using Hugelkultur, the ancient process of mounding up garden waste and rotting wood to mimic the rich environment of the forest floor. The plants in the garden are all edible, from skirret to Stachys affinis and there is a genuine sense of calm in this space. It is like escaping to a time long ago - the time that existed before crazy paving, colour, and Spangles. Hang on, was there a time before Spangles? Oh our poor, poor ancestors.
London Glades

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is open until July 9th. For more details visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-hampton-court-palace-flower-show

15 comments:

  1. I do like the modern take and clean lines with fine grouting. For authenticity though we'd love to see him use broken concrete next time :)

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  2. Sorry I missed you there, Sarah. I arrived later in the day so had to quickly scurry round as many gardens as I could and missed the London Glades garden. It was my third year at Hampton and I still get confused as to where everything is! I though the show was really good this year, so vibrant and colourful - I'm just going through my photos now.

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  3. Love all that color and crazy paving. Nature is at it's best when left to itself. All glorious.

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  4. Crazy paving is alive and well in the US, Sarah, at least in California. My own garden is also a bit like that crayon box garden in terms of color, although that effect wasn't intentional and I haven't entirely embraced it...

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  5. That is much neater than I remember crazy paving to be and no awkward gaps.

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  6. As a total newbie to show gardens, I loved how generous Charlie Bloom is with her time and her space. So pleased to have worked on Colour Box, and to have learned so much.

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  7. I'd love to visit this show, Sarah.
    Your words:'Flower shows in the twenty-first century have flirted with a tasteful splash of orange, or a sprinkling of lemon in a sea of blues, whites and greens' are awesome.

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  8. I must admit I do find the woodland greens more restful but hurrah for the odd clashing of colours. Perhaps I don't need to rip up past peccadilloes after all.

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  9. I saw a modern take on crazy paving many years ago at Rosemoor. The space between the slabs was filled with large pebbles. I liked it so much we copied it in a short path here.

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  10. Love all the dazzling, brilliant color of the Colour Box Garden.

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  11. What beautiful gardens! I love the Colour Box one. We don't have Spangles here in the US, sadly, but if the quality is anything like the chocolate over there, they are probably amazing.

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  12. The only spangles I like is Heuchera 'Red Spangles' a superb and very old variety.
    Oh and give me real crazy paving

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  13. "National Collection of unpaired gardening gloves", made me laugh out loud! I really like the modern take on the crazy paving with its clean lines and laser-cut stone. When we see plant "fashions" on TV I always end up saying, "but we've been growing that for years!".

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  14. I love the Colour Box Garden ( Is there really such a thing as color clash in a garden? In all my years I have moved exactly one plant because of clashing colors!). I also love London Glades. I can't say which I prefer, as different as they are. Crazy Paving? Did that ever really go out of style? But I admit, until I started blogging I was not aware that fashions in garden styles come and go!

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