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The Top Themes From Hampton Court Garden Festival

The Top Themes From Hampton Court Garden Festival

This year’s Hampton Court Garden Festival was blessed with great weather and soaring temperatures. If you watched the coverage on BBC, you probably noticed how beautiful the weather was. Along with typically good weather, garden festivals and shows are traditionally the time to showcase beautiful gardens and trends within gardening. They have also become a time to push the boundaries slightly and have areas that are installed to create debate and shock. This year’s Hampton Court RHS show was no exception. Whilst similar fashions and materials were used in the displays that were in the Chelsea Flower Show 2019, a few different themes were explored.

Mental Health

Perhaps one of the most iconic displays from this year’s show was that of Joe Francis’s garden which was built to literally look like a bomb had hit it. With rubble strewn around, barbed wire and vintage gas masks littering the display, it became a real talking point of visitors and the media alike. The garden was named ‘Calm Amidst Chaos’ and was built to demonstrate anxiety in the modern world. It discussed that the world can be overwhelming, and the media can create a constant sense of danger. A wave shaped structure made of police confiscated knives and a deactivated bomb punctuated this hard-hitting display.

calm amidst chaos garden rhs knive wave


(Photo credit @GardensFor)

In a similar theme but delivered in a completely different way, the Live Well garden by Writtle University College and Crest Nicholson won a Silver Award for their design which highlighted mental and physical wellbeing. The display was created as a community space and contemplation area for use of people from all backgrounds, ages and abilities to benefit from, it had moving cube seats and a still water feature. Barbara Currie, a leading yoga instructor, gave a tutorial to launch the garden whilst visitors centred themselves amongst 50 different species of plant.

live well garden rhs seating blocks

(Photo credit @_DJA)


Water and water sustainability were a big theme in the Chelsea Flower Show this year, so it was no surprise to see this topic at Hampton Court. Our friends at Thames Water put on a stunning display at the festival, they created an urban wetland with bright flowers and birdhouses dotted about. The display had free water stations for visitors and Thames Water staff were on hand to discuss how to create a beautiful garden but look after water consumption, too. The natural landscape featured a large concrete pipe in the background to illustrate the contrasts in our environment and world. Flowers that were either able to thrive with little water or the ability to grow roots lower to tackle dehydration took centre stage as the global threat of water shortage was thrown into the spotlight.

This display won gold at the festival this year and we at Water Butts Direct send our congratulations to everyone involved in the making of this gorgeous garden.

thames water garden rhs stanton bonna pipe

(Photo credit @Stantonbonna)

If you’re concerned about the amount of water you are using when attempting to maintain a thriving garden, why not look into installing a water butt? You can collect rainwater and use this throughout the year to water your garden, wash your car and do other household chores without using your precious water supply.

The Wilderness

Wild gardening and abandoning weeding were a strong subject in the Hampton Court Garden Festival. Not only do wild garden patches encourage pollination but it looks unbelievably gorgeous when a garden is filled with tall flowers and blooms.

One notable display was created by the BBC Springwatch team, the garden was built to demonstrate the importance of ‘rewilding’ gardens and green spaces for the benefit of the environment and pollination. This display created a ‘neighbourhood’ feel with three different sections built to show how communities and neighbours can help the local wildlife when they work together. The first part was designed to represent an untamed garden with nettles and overgrown weeds, the second was a ‘family’ garden with a pond and a drystone bench and the third represented a ‘young couple’s’ garden with formal topiary and insect hotels. The gardens were connected by ‘wildlife’ corridors which provided passages for insects, birds and animals to move between the areas. All three gardens represented different landscapes that are perfect for wildlife to thrive.

springwatch garden bench wild flowers

(photo credit @mrgaryellis)

Creating a garden that places the emphasis on wildlife is simple. Easing up on weeding and building insect or bug hotels is a quick and easy way to encourage pollination and can ease flooding of paved areas in heavy rainfall periods. Make sure your garden gets the best water by installing a Gutter Mate to your downpipe and filter debris from rainwater, this way your wild flower areas will thrive at all times of the year.

Hampton Court had its shock factors in Joe Francis’ garden but also told stories of environmental issues and water conservation. With Thames Water winning gold this year with a display that emphasised consumption and the need for better water management globally, it shows we may all need to think more about the ways we can save water. This could be through installing a water butt and watering our ‘rewilded’ areas with unpurified water (the kind of water that plants like more than tap water). Allowing patches of your garden to grow long and luscious will also mean that flooding on cemented areas is cut down and rainwater isn’t wasted.

We have a huge range of water butts in many different colours and designs – find yours today.


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