RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival
Wednesday: RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival; (BBC2, 9pm)
Mother Nature may have temporarily reclaimed the streets when countries locked down for Covid in 2020, but at least gardeners across the UK got the chance to spend extra time pottering about their green spaces.
It led to a bloom in popularity of gardening across the country, and not just among experienced veterans with the greenest of thumbs.
Newcomers to the pastime also discovered the many joys – and frustrations – of trying to create something beautiful in all kinds of spaces, nurturing life and colour everywhere from tiny balconies to vast, untamed back gardens.
As life appears to be slowly returning to normal, for some of these gardeners it’s also a return to the daily grind, and they will soon be swapping commuting and hours in the office for home-working and a spot of cheeky light weeding during lunch hour.
That tinge of sadness will be tempered by three hours of sumptuous coverage from the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, the Royal Horticultural Society’s first major show of the year, held in what can only be described as stunning surroundings.
The presenting team is made up of Rachel de Thame, Joe Swift, Adam Frost and Arit Anderson. Intriguingly, they will be pairing up in a competition to create a themed Hampton flower border and it will be fascinating to see how they get on. No doubt expert analysts Carol Klein, Toby Buckland, Nick Bailey and Mark Lane will have a word or two about their plots.
Over the course of three hour-long programmes, the team will explore the array of inspiring and accessible ideas on display in the gardens and marquees, and aim to encourage everyone to get growing, no matter what size of outdoor space they have.
As well as offering an extravaganza of summer colour with world-class design and plants, this year’s event has a focus on wellbeing and sustainability, arguably two of the biggest themes to emerge from the global pandemic. Many people who took up gardening during lockdown said the activity helped them cope, and gave them something positive to focus on.
As with every year, the event features a range of diverse garden designs to explore, and this year’s categories include lifestyle, a classification to conjure with if ever there was one, as well as global impact gardens that address environmental challenges, and large, show-stopping spaces and features guaranteed to bring the ‘wow’ factor.
The floral marquee has pride of place, showcasing the best high summer plants from British growers, and the programmes will be championing the country’s favourite flower in the famous Festival of Roses.
There are a couple of newcomers to the 2021 Flower Show. Making their debuts are the RHS Flower Market, bringing together florists and cut-flower specialists to showcase the latest trends in displays, and RHS Allotments, celebrating the ‘grow your own’ trend, with community groups exhibiting for the first time.
If all of that isn’t enough inspiration to pull on some wellies, pick up a trowel and start planting, we don’t know what is.
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