The big flower shows are great places to find inspiration and marvel over stunning plant combinations in well-ordered gardens, and it’s super to see that increasing numbers of designers are recognising the value of outside spaces that look beautiful and are friendly to wildlife too.
This year’s RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival featured several plots planted with native wild flowers, including the ‘Back to Nature’ feature garden co-designed by the Duchess of Cambridge. This beautiful space has been created to resemble an area of woodland in which children can play and be close to nature.
Elsewhere the mini garden features created by schools are often a highlight of Hampton Court. This year children were challenged to come up with insect hotels, resulting in a brilliant collection of ideas. I especially enjoyed a cat-shaped entry, and one shaped like a mushroom, both of which looked great while simultaneously performing a valuable function. I was also interested to see strawberries growing in a bale or straw in the ‘Dig In’ area – something I’m going to try with some of this year’s runners. The idea is to make holes in the bale, add some compost and then insert the plant. The straw will gradually rot down, providing moisture and nutrients, but I reckon its rough surface will help deter slugs too.