It’s not what you might expect, but, as soon as I walked the dusty sunny path to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show from the station, entered the grounds and perused the catalogue, I knew what I wanted to see.
The show gardens are of course predominantly what it’s all about with prizes awarded to the most outstanding. Then there’s the rose marquee, various celebrity talks, plants to be purchased and delectable food and drink to taste. However, this year the flower show encompassed so much more – from cooking to dogs and butterflies. Yes, you heard me right.
‘If you head to the ‘DogsTrust: A Dog’s Life’ garden you should be able to see it complete with a few of its namesakes’ the press office told me.
I couldn’t get there fast enough. Past people carrying trundling boxes full of garden delights I did my best to make haste. But, the mood was relaxed, and I found myself slowing down: A couple stood looking over a show garden: ‘I think if we did something like that water feature dear – it could work – it’s just a small dribble’ one said.
‘We could give it a try love’ came the mellow response, made so by the warmth of sun shining and a precious day away from the norm.
Up ahead I spied a rectangular shallow pool overhung with various delicate plants and some sculptures of – were they dogs – wading through it? I had reached my destination and was soon chatting to Emily from DogsTrust. ‘We just won Gold last night’ she told me excitedly proceeding to fill me in on the whys and wherefores of this sensitively planned garden.
‘It represents the journey of every DogsTrust dog – making sure they’re as happy as can be. It’s got herbaceous borders, sniffer tracks, a pavilion for shade, tubes for them to run through, water and places to dig. But, it’s also about people being able to enjoy their garden with their dog – showing that it’s possible to make it work for both.’
I stroked Evie’s head – a quiet and restrained greyhound visiting from their West London centre for the day. ‘She’s been with us two weeks – often dogs come here when there’s a change in the family circumstances. She used to race.’ In the cool and gently scented garden a photo session followed.
Time was flying by and there was yet a final highlight to attend: In the Butterfly Dome, I couldn’t stop myself smiling – thrilled by hundreds of these most colourful creatures flitting about my head, landing on plants and occasionally my bare arm.
Without a doubt it had been a day to delight not just one, but all of the senses.
Very many thanks to RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.