Last Saturday was a first for me: RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.
Don’t know why we hadn’t been before as the ticket was only £16 and the venue (Tatton Park) is only 58 minutes’ drive from (Yorkshire) home.
D had already been because a neighbour’s date in 2011 had dropped out at the last minute and so D had become both guest and chauffeur for the neighbour. They met Monty Don so Tatton Park Flower Show gets more than an occasional mention!
In fact, I’d only been to Tatton Park itself once before (and fell in love with the Japanese garden). It was in the pouring rain and the house wasn’t open. I think I’ll have Tatton on the 2014 “must see” list.
How does Tatton Park rank as an RHS Flower Show?
Having been to Chelsea and Hampton Court RHS Flower Shows I’d rank Tatton Park last for the quality of the show gardens. Some were really poor. D commented that “there isn’t one like that Australian garden from Chelsea“. I think there were three gardens that I bothered to take pictures of (though they were really nice).
Of course, Tatton isn’t Chelsea so I didn’t expect the same type of garden. In fact, there’s a different focus – council parks departments put on displays and local schools put in some entries. With more space on offer, these “gardens” fill up spaces between the marquees.
I did REALLY like the parks department ducks in a bath. I’d like this in my local park. It was tricky to photograph so I got a bit artistic.
For me, Tatton Park Flower Show was about buying plants. 4 or £10 on one stall or £3 each. I could have gone crazy but I was catching a train from Manchester to London straight after the show and therefore limited myself to a chocolate cosmos (smells of chocolate too!), two bunny tail plants (love them!) and 3 pinball wizard alium bulbs.
I also took the chance (once again) to ask the stalls in the marquee with propagating bark as a dressing where they get it from. I’ve been a little obsessed with propagating bark since I first saw it being used at Chelsea as a display dressing some years ago (it’s really meant to be used for propagating orchid seedlings) but it would look really nice to dress all my tubs. It’s dinky stuff and much nicer than the chunky stuff available at garden centres. Melcourt Propagating Bark or Madingley Mulch might be my saviours.
I had started the week with a trip to RHS Wisley, so just to get the most out of our RHS cards, on the Friday we also visited RHS Harlow Carr. Well, why not? In contrast to Wisley though, Harlow Carr was a bit disappointing – it’s more of a valley with wood walks on one side and some average stuff on the other side: lake, alpine house, example ‘back gardens’. There isn’t a big glass house. I’m probably spoilt with having Wisley and Kew near me and having just been to Wisley didn’t do it any favours, but for me Harlow Carr isn’t someone I’d make an effort to visit again (except perhaps for lunch at Betty’s). The camera barely came out and there was only one picture I bothered to keep, of an on-trend meadow flower border.
We had fun though: we’d learned from our March trip to Harlow Carr that six year olds get bored in gardens sometimes and so to keep his interest and to stop complaints we borrowed a wheelchair to push him around. I had to crawl in myself though at the end though because I was dragged on every playground by him (that is something Harlow Carr does well) and rescue more than one child that had gotten stuck up too high. Note to self: you are not six years old any more.
The week was all about hot summer flowers
And for a bit of fun, here is a walking, talking flower-pot that we spotted at Tatton Park. It is ordering its lunch from the burger van.
When visited: July 2013
RHS Harlow Carr: http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr
Tatton Park: http://www.tattonpark.org.uk/