In a similar ilk to my post on the RHS Show Cardiff 2010 I found that yet again the show was seriously lacking on show gardens, although the numbers had increased a little. Overall what was on display did little to inspire progression or influence new styles and I guess when all was considered the general feeling was that it was pleasing at best. It would have been great to see something that added a sense of challenge or spectacle but unfortunately this was not to be. Maybe next year?
Sheds, offices and other rooms featured heavily in this years gardens maybe indicating that the garden office or space is fast becoming a staple. All I know is that I would love to have something similar in my garden from which to work or read.
West Meets East - Gaynor Witchard Garden Design and Alfresco Landscape & Garden
The 'Best Show Garden' (above) winning a Silver-Guilt medal used a limited palette of colour and a lot of restraint to achieve its primary goal of fusing the Japanese garden with the West. When I met with Gaynor she discussed that it was hard work to get the job done in such a short space of time as there was so much gravel to clean. As a result the pond area was rather tricky to execute but Gaynor battled on and said she was pleased with the overall result. Gaynor's garden at last years show entitled 'Irene's Garden' also won Best Show Garden and couldn't be further away from this design.
The Reading Room - Ben Brook
This garden also used a garden room and other similar influences to create a modern space for reading and relaxing. Again we see a rather muted and limited use of colour with the garden being somewhat dominated with wooden landscaping.
Sweet Retreat - Imogen Cox & Pippa Tee
'Sweet Retreat' stood out from the other gardens with it's busy use of colour, both in the planting and in the hard landscaping. This really grabbed the attention of passers by and coupled with the dominating yet beautiful shed had the potential to work well. What really let the garden down, I feel, was the sheer volume of plants and their proximity to one another. Overall the garden felt as though it was suffocating and did not appear to be at all practical in the long run.
The floral marquees were gorgeous as ever however I am beginning to see quite a lot of repetition as the years go on. Despite this there are still new and exciting things to discover and I guess that's half the charm of attending. I didn't leave with armfuls of plants this year but instead I restrained myself buying only a small selection of perennial herbs and plants including Tree Onions and Winter Savoury. Some of the Erythroniums on display were absolutely stunning and I may have to look in to buying some of these to add to my garden.
Entertainers were on hand to cheer the crowds and keep small children out of mischief and they really did succeed this year. Yes, those are indeed vegetable and fruit babies!
And finally, RHS Cardiff is not complete without the schools wheelbarrow competition. This year my vote went to this
On reflection this year's show left me feeling as though I'd seen it all before. It did little to truly hold my attention for any meaningful amount of time and it did not have enough content to keep me entertained for even half a day never mind a full day out. Perhaps it was the lure of a meal at a nice restaurant or my general state of tiredness that led me to feel this way but I can't help but think I am trying to make excuses as I really want this show to do better? It's a shame really and I sincerely hope that in the near future the garden element improves and grows as surely it is this that should be at the heart of the spectacle?