On Sunday 9th July, 26 Red Hatters and friends were picked up bright(?) and early by a cheerful coach driver. The journey down was slow and traffic-jammed, but by midday we arrived and negotiated the walk over the stepped bridge and into Hampton Court Grounds. Some of us looked at the formal gardens round the Palace, before entering a large and bewildering showground packed with everything to do with gardens.
How can one sum up the show? There were mini gardens featuring (among other things) recycled iron scraps, beach huts or willow weave octopus tentacles. There were garden sheds of every shape, size, colour and degree of luxury. Ornaments that looked like flowers or elephant tusks or animals made of turf. Water features and clever elegant metalworks to support plants. And everywhere, banks and beds and pots of flowers of every colour and shape and size. Vegetable gardens so perfect one couldn’t imagine harvesting them. And trees that were big and ‘settled’ that (presumably) had been moved in for the occasion.
The sheer size and (it has to be said) heat and crowds were at times a bit overwhelming, and many of us welcomed the prearranged rest, lunch, and chat in the shade by Long Water. And then we were off again! Rutland Red Hatters wore red and purple in style, so we were (as usual!) quite distinctive, though there were also Red Hatters from Burnham Market.
Traditionally many of the show flowers are sold at bargain during the last hour of the show, so not surprisingly, the coach left full of plants as well as Red Hatters. And a lot of us snoozed as we driven home.