Gardening: Flower show reminder of paradise lostBy Linda Fort
July 09, 2010
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was gloriously fruitful and colourful this year.
Everything looked blooming and abundant which is a small miracle given that all the growers must have been struggling to overcome the lack of rain.
On Sunday, when they were finishing off their show gardens, the competitors were beset with a slow driving warm wind which could hardly have been helpful, and yet they were all beautiful.
Hampton Court is a lot jollier and less posh than Chelsea and on Monday it was teaming with primary school children taking part in a scarecrow-making competition with a Shakespearean theme.
The show gardens are not in the multi-million pound class like their Chelsea counterparts and are more down-to-earth and accessible as a result.
However I generally find myself looking past the landscaping and posh furniture at the plants.
I spotted one which I have in my own garden which is a delightful arrival at this time of year.
Scabiosa atropurpurea has been flowering quietly in my garden – and in the last garden I had – for years.
It doesn’t flower for long but when its dark, dark crimson – nearly black – flowers arrive they make an interesting and welcome statement.
At Hampton Court, there were two larger flowered varieties called ‘Chile Black’ and ‘Ace of Spades’ but I am not sure that I don’t like my commoner version better.
It can be straggly and I find it is best grown in the middle of the border where neighbouring plants help to prop it up.
In that setting the deep crimson spots scatter themselves through the neighbouring flowers and foliage very prettily creating a tapestry of colour.
The plantings at Hampton Court were of course more neatly managed than that, but they have only been in place for a few days and will never have the chance to tumble and roam among their neighbours.
I was struck forcibly by the notion of what a wonderful place my garden would be if I had kept every plant I had ever bought and never lost any of them.
Time and again, I noticed a beautiful campanula or a stunning astrantia and thought: ‘I used to have one of those, I wonder what happened to it.’
Like the flowers of the sweet scabious, thoughts of what might have been are fleeting.