Hampton Court Show

26th June 2006

Tracy Wilson looks forward to building the Radio Cornwall 'Cornish Garden'

This Tuesday I’m heading off to Hampton Court for my second year of setting up a stand there. This time I’m going up to the BBC Radio Cornwall ‘ Cornish Garden’ competition garden (a hell of a title for a little garden!). It was designed by a lady called Louise Todd. The garden was intended to depict something quintessentially Cornish so that one would look at it and think ‘Yup, that’s Cornwall’. It’s a very small space which you’ve got to create it in: it’s only 4m by 5m, but it’s a very attractive, very pleasing design. I have to say, I’m quite looking forward to doing it.
The process behind actually creating the stand is always interesting: I think people go to these shows without realising quite what goes into actually getting it there. It’s always a long-winded process. But for my own involvement, apart from taking part in the original judging of the Radio Cornwall ‘Cornish Garden’ competition, it’s involved, shall we say, ‘interpreting’ the plans. For a garden that one could do as a garden ‘at home’ to do as a design equivalent for Chelsea or Hampton Court you need to make sure it shows it’s there for a judge. So it takes a little bit of interpretation. But that said, a trial run was done at Royal Cornwall Show, which was very successful and this one will be slightly different again because obviously it's a different choice of plants. It’s going to be rather good fun because it’s going to be the frontage for the BBC stand at Hampton Court. It’s a very prestigious prize for anybody to have and it’s a very well positioned site in Hampton Court as well, so from my own point of view it’s going to be quite fun building a garden that’s going to be seen by so many people up at Hampton Court. We’re also supplying all the plants for the stand, from the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, so that’s nice because it’s meant that I’ve been able to have full control over the quality of the plants, picking out the best possible plants available, and some really tasty, exotic things are being pulled out now to go up in the lorry on Tuesday. We’ve got things from what are mundane to a lot of people like Sedums, Echeverias, Gaillardias – big daisy flowers – fairly ordinary perennials through to real exotica like Tetrapanax papyrifer which has the most fantastic, exotic foliage almost like a lush Fatsia, I suppose, as well as big Echiums, palm trees, Bananas, Bamboos – everything that’s indicative of a jungle. That is what the back half of the garden will be, whereas the front half will be like a sun-baked patio with very lush planting borders around the side. It’s a garden of contrasts, I suppose really. The feel is very much of coming up from the beach and walking into your front courtyard, then through the garden gate into the more private, secluded part of the garden. That is encapsulated, I suppose, but the 'feel' is there – that’s how I interpret the garden, walking up through the courtyard through the garden gate. Hopefully there’ll be a little table and chairs tucked away in the back piece, and you can imagine sitting there in the shade, rather than baking out in the front, and just sitting watching the world go by your garden gate. So it’s really rather an enchanting little garden to do.

The colour schemes in the front are going to be very warm – very hot and sunny – lots of purples, reds, yellows, oranges, also shading through to pinks and blues as well. Then in the back area of the garden it’s much more lush and jungle-y, we’re going to have some big lillies in there, big Leptospermum, big foliage plants. And again, we’ve got contrasting colours as well as contrasting leaf shapes. I’ve actually got a proper stone wall being built in the garden, with little plants tucked in amongst it as you’d expect to see. And a very old, rusty gate, which will be the gateway through into the second half of the garden. So, hopefully, it will look fairly lived-in and with a bit of luck it’ll appeal to the judges – I’m quite looking forward to that at the moment. It ‘s a pretty garden, and it’s a nice one to do because you’ve got something for everybody in there – you’ve got the flower power, the foliage, lush jungle-y effects. As I say, it’s just got everything. I’m looking forward to it, I must admit. Quite apart from the fact it’s a slight indulgence, taking a week’s holiday, going up there, building it. It’s quite nice to do the PR stuff as well, and a bit for the Radio – and of course, the Gala Evening at Hampton Court which is something else. You really get to see all the celebrities and a serious political thing if you’re into that and the most fantastic firework display at the end of the evening. And it’s one of those occasions when if you can get a ticket for the Gala Evening at Hampton Court, you grab it with both hands, believe me. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks’ time I’ll be able to give you a report about what it was like.

Tracy Wilson