Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2009

In a departure from my usual diary this month, I’d like to use the space to announce that I’m creating a feature garden at this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. A phone call three weeks ago offered me the opportunity to create a small garden based on fruit and vegetables. Am I a landscaper? No! Have I done anything else like this before? No! So what was the answer? ‘Yes’!

I’ve always worked on a principle, typical of any ‘freelancer’ – ‘say yes and worry about it afterwards’; as I write, I’m submerged in the ‘worry about it after’ stage. It is one of three gardens being created under the umbrella of Edible Spaces with Capital Growth using the façade of terraced houses that Sarah Eberle used to create her ‘Credit Crunch’ gardens at Chelsea. The Capital Growth incentive, launched in 2008 by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food aims to create 2,012 new food-growing spaces by 2012, so the aim is to inspire and inform. Adam Frost my ‘next door neighbour’ is using edible plants in a low maintenance garden and next door but one is Chris Myers who is featuring edible flowers – both are RHS Gold medal winners. No pressure there, then – I can honestly say that I’m absolutely petrified!

Through a series of kindnesses from friends I’ve secured the services of Mark Gregory and his company Landform Consultants are going to construct the garden and South Eastern Coatings will be laying a funky garden path from crushed recycled glass; Aylett Nurseries and Winchester Growers are providing the plants. Finding vegetable plants in quantity and of a decent quality at this time of year is not easy but I am sure that they will be perfect! I’m really concerned about the weather. This week’s forecast is for a heat wave with thundery showers – just what we need – especially when recent heavy rain pummeled my vegetable plot at home into a pulp!

My theme for the garden is that this is the home of a couple with teenage children, who are all enthusiastic cooks. Like many people, they live in a London Borough were there are now no allotments available, so have decided to turn their front garden into a productive yet ornamental space. Modifying the straight rows of an allotment into a more interesting shape reflecting the curves of the path, their plot has been transformed into an edible bedding scheme using fruit, vegetables, companion planting, (like basil with tomatoes and sage by brassica’s to deter aphids) and edible flowers. Some plants appear in neighbouring gardens, showing how people regularly exchange plants ‘over the garden fence’. The trellis on the house wall, designed and constructed by an artist pal of mine, David Jones, combines art with functionality – the timber is recycled too!

So if you are coming to the flower show, please come by and say ‘Hello’, see the gardens that have been created and cast your vote for the ‘People’s choice’ garden. By that time, my worried frown should have been replaced by a smile! Happy Gardening!