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Garden Highlights

Green spaces do good
There was a big environmental and social focus at Hampton Court this year. Joseph Gibson’s Conscious Consumerism garden provided food for thought on how the animal agriculture industry is the leading cause of global deforestation, and won the Gardens for a Changing World Category.

Borough Market teamed up with the Eden Project and Franchi Seeds to show the importance of seasonality, biodiversity and provenance of the fruit and vegetables that we eat, and to inspire visitors to grow their own – no matter how large or small their space. Meanwhile, a Herbs and Preserves Garden celebrated the tradition of preserving food with herbs to help address food waste.

The Tolworth SHEDx project, which records oral histories from allotment holders, appeared, complete with a replica allotment featuring classic vegetables from WW2, and scooped a Silver Medal as part of the Flower and Vegetable Box section.

Bright ideas for today’s challenges
At Hampton Court, DIY/garden retailer B&Q displayed the new downy mildew resistant Busy Lizzie ‘Imara’, which has sold more than a million in its first weeks of launch, and won Best Show Garden with its ideas for an inspirational and achievable garden.

Chelsea highlighted alternatives to traditional Mediterranean plants (olives, rosemary and lavender), which were banned by the RHS if they were not UK grown due to the risk of Xylella, a plant disease rife in southern Europe. Pomegranates replaced olives, curry plants replaced lavender and westringia for rosemary.

Jonathan Snow used a lot of South African ‘Fynbos’ plants, ideal for dry conditions, such as red hot pokers, agapanthus and proteas.

Planting for health and wellbeing
At Chelsea, Feel Good Garden designer Matt Keightley, demonstrated the positive impact green spaces can have on mental wellbeing. “We care for plants like they’re children and that gives us purpose, meaning and something to focus on outside of everyday life, which, in very simple terms, is a great way to alleviate day-to-day stress,” he says. Plant whites, pinks, blues and purples, which have been found to have a calming and relaxing effect. Aromatic herbs too are beneficial. At Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Alexandra Noble’s Heath & Wellbeing garden (pictured) incorporated plants such as fennel, camomile, valerian, and sage, and a circular path was designed to help slow down the mind.

• We loved Chelsea’s plant of the year Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’, which flowers all along the stem rather than just at the end, and ‘Sunflower Sunbelievable’ which produces up to 1,000 flowers a year.
• The wildflower trend has run its course and country garden favourites are back in, with lupins, delphiniums, and foxgloves – showy flower spike plants in general – proving popular

 © RHS © RHS - Luke MacGregor