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