This week the RHS Flower Show is back up North. Beginning on Wednesday 18 July and setting off a floral firework display until Sunday 22 July, the northern showcase of the RHS is looking for two things: another 100,000 plus visitors spectacularly entertained; and a yellow orb believed to be called the sun last spotted in May.
If the latter mythical object fails to appear at least a spectacle is guaranteed. As Bob Sweet, the RHS Shows Organiser, told Confidential: “This is about an entertainment with flowers. We want people to be inspired and excited about what they can do with their gardens. The level of originality shown in the displays this year is as good as any, which is saying a lot since this is a show which we’ve always found to be full of wit, verve and technical ability.”
Thus expect a whole range of skilfully put together floral ensembles such as the Sputnik installation. This will celebrate fifty years of space exploration as part of the Spaced Out Show – appropriately Tatton is not far from Jodrell Bank, which was the first facility in the West to spot the Soviet satellite. Meanwhile Phillippa Propbert’s Forest Fusion design will jink us Doctor Who-like into the future, where shrubbery plucked, as if from a rainforest, will smother a ‘smart-technology’ glass pod complete with its own heat and light technology.
Symbolism, heavy and subtle, will be everywhere. Thus Tatton Park’s Italian gardens will be commemorated with a flower bed featuring a gondola at its centre. Not far away the Anthony Nolan Trust floats the idea of a Bubble Garden which aims to catch the imagination of children.
A couple of exceptional additions this time round are the Back to Back gardens. Jacqui Brocklehurst’s offering is the The Herbal Tea Party, which blends East and West, tea and sharp design, with thirst-quenching effect. The party wall neighbour is Rory McVean’s Quench which features Hordium plants for brewing beer, and citrus trees to provide zest.
It’s a campaigning Tatton too. This year the Flower Show will be fighting for that classic summer fruit the gooseberry. Here’s a fact: of the nine gooseberry societies in the UK, eight are located in Cheshire, and all will be at the show displaying their champion fruits and heritage varieties in the National Plant Societies Marquee. Eccentricity in England is in the blood so to speak, and a highlight this year might be the 1895 song ‘Ode to the Gooseberry Grower’. Then again it might not.
But something will hold the attention and make a visit memorable. Indeed there will be piles of stuff to do for young and old alike: games, activities, seminars, plants for sale and loads of refreshment opportunities. And of course, expert gardening advice can be picked up from the growers and RHS Gardening Advice Desk.
The RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park takes place between 18 and 22 July, with 18 July reserved for RHS members.