RHS Tatton Park – a day out for everyone


There is certainly plenty to entertain visitors at the 18th RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (20th – 24th July 2016), set against the beautiful backdrop of Tatton Park in Cheshire’s gentle countryside, writes Sandy Felton.

RHS Tatton is the north-west’s opportunity to showcase the highest standards of horticulture and gardening innovation and is an excellent forum for emerging young talent.

Best Show Garden this year goes to designer Pip Probert for ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (Silver-Gilt), – sponsored by Hultons Design & Build – a beautifully designed garden with classic elements but also including unusual features, such as the Solarlux garden room and sculptural arches.  (pictured banner above and below middle). The garden is also enhanced by the ‘Quill’, a David Harber sculpture sitting perfectly within the tree ferns and cool planting. On a very hot press day this garden certainly had the cooling effect and we loved it.


Also in the Show Garden category, ‘Never Forget – Never Again’ (Silver-Gilt), designed by Carolyn R Hardern, is a quiet reflective space in which to remember loved ones lost and reflect on the horrors of human suffering. Celebrating 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, Tatton Park Gardens have created the ‘Big Friendly Garden’ (Silver-Gilt) designed by The Tatton Park Garden Team. Its certainly big, with a damp misty atmosphere of mosses and ferns.


The Back-to-Back garden category is a firm Tatton favourite and this year five gardens were awarded a Gold medal. Best in category and Gold went to Nottingham City Homes for ‘A Drop of Urban Green’. The contemporary lines of ‘The Garden Design Shop: High Tide’ (Gold), (pictured above) designed by Michael O’Reilly, reflected a contemporary coastal garden designed to provoke an awareness of the threat to coastal homes from global warming.


The ‘NSPCC Legacy Garden; (Silver-Gilt) designed by Andrew Walker, caught my eye with its depiction of a Lakeland garden. (pictured above). Here a wealth of perennials fills the garden behind a drystone wall. The sheep dog poking his head over the wall adds to the Lakeland feel.


‘A View Within’ designed by Eileen Wood (Gold) provides ideas for a young couple living in a new-build with a quiet corner for catching the evening light. (pictured above) The National Trust Garden, Biddulph Grange’s depiction of  ‘An English Stumpery Garden’ (Silver) fascinated me. I like stumpery gardens and there were lots of little ideas to take away from this design by designer Mary Moxon.

side-young-designer-RHS Tatton showcases the final of the RHS Young Designer Competition and this year there are three exceptional gardens.

Best Young Designer goes to Caitlin McLaughlin (pictured left) for her ‘Nature to Nurture’ garden (Gold) representing an urban nature reserve. I particularly liked the stepping stones across the pond and the quiet seated area on this design.

Gold also went to ‘A Home from Home’ designed by Robin Dwiar, an urban oasis with a simple colour palette to enhance calmness. ‘A space to Ruminate’ (Silver-Gilt) designed by Lilly Gomm makes a transition from indoor to outdoor living with an emphasis on health and well being. I thought this design made clever use of space with its kitchen garden and private seating area. Three excellent finalists and gardens.

The RHS Young Contractor 2016, judges three young landscape contractors paired with three planting designers, tasked with creating gardens based on a design by Tamara Bridge. The three finalists chosen from each respective field are set the challenge of working together in pairs. Although the pairs work together, the winners will not necessarily come from the same team. This is a new competition supported by the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI). Each garden is given a different style and soil type to take on either a countryside, coastal or urban focus. The three gardens are outstanding and we will be reporting on them in a separate post.


Stunning sculptures around the Tatton Showground include pieces by James Doran Webbmade from driftwood.

Show visitors can also watch progress in the semi-final of the World Skills UK Landscaping Competition run by the Association of Professional Landscapers. The top eight will go on to compete in the national finals held at the NEC Birmingham in November. It is fascinating to watch someone actually building a garden with the realization that it is not as easy as it looks.

RHS Tatton also plays host to the Evolution Gardens category with three gardens celebrating the evolution of a concept of nature. Best in category went to ‘Plant Evolution’ (Silver) designed by Michael Vinsun.

Throw into the mix Blooming Borders, School Gardens, the Floral Design Studio and the Floral Marquee and you have a very well balanced Flower Show covering every spectrum of growing, health and wellbeing, theatre lectures and master classes, that all go towards making RHS Flower Show Tatton pretty special.

side-disa-bThe RHS Floral Marquee can always be relied on to provide some pretty stunning exhibits and this year is no exception with no less than 36 Gold medals being awarded. Best exhibit in the Floral Marquee is awarded to Pheasant Acre Plants for their display of Gladioli, dahlia and bulbous plants.

We were particularly impressed with Dave Parkinson’s display of Disa orchids from South Africa. (pictured right) Dave grows the orchids in Yorkshire and his brilliant display earned him a well deserved Gold.

We hope the weather stays fair for the rest of the Show and particularly for Family Day on Saturday 23rd July, when there will be a host of activities that everyone can enjoy. For details and tickets log onto: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-flower-show-tatton-park


Photo credits: ©2016 All photographs are copyright of Emma J Campbell Photography and Reckless Gardener.