National Exhibition Centre, June 2013
OK, so what stood out from the crowd this year? I’d have to say that for me, Wild Flower Planting stole the show, by a country mile. I don't know if I'm alone in this, but as time goes by I'm looking for a simpler, more honest gardening style and wildflowers in a garden situation just seem the right way to go. This wasn’t the first garden show to feature planting on the wild side of course, they've been used to great effect elsewhere, but wildflowers were out at BBC Gardeners World in various gardens swishing about in the breeze – and what a breath of fresh air they bring.
"If it was in my garden that'd be cut down" I heard someone say, and I have to accept that 'wild' plants in a garden setting isn't for all tastes, but design, even in a modest way can make all the difference. It has to be understood up-front that show gardens often use wildflowers to deliver a message or make a statement, and these featured gardens at BBC Gardeners World Live were no exception.
When viewing critically, I have to say I feel garden shows should demand more structure - with management or 'design' needing to be seen - that way people who need to see control in a garden can be satisfied, and landscapers can stay in work! Otherwise, comments from people who see these spaces as unruly wild areas will continue, and wild flowers will continue to receive bad press. On the whole I have to say, I'm glad to see the continued inclusion of native plants in show gardens, and hope their use is developed as time goes by to keep pace with design. Some of my wilder photo clips and notes:
Another wild one, (although probably not championing the use of wildflowers,) was this lovely little plot by Craig Bailey called Opposites Detract, which intended to show the effect of cuts to parks funding. A very clever use of the central wall to divide a well managed and vibrant border in a typical park situation, from an un-managed and vandalised park. A stark message very effectively put across - loved it!
One final garden to finish up, where I arguably picked up a desire for wild planting was the Austerity Garden, by Jade Goto and Armando Raish, built by Reuben Kyte. Not at all wild when first viewed, but the green wall when studied, even considering its exotic planting effect, surely stems from a lush bog garden memory?! Asplenium, Liriope and Polystichum were densely packed onto this vertical bed, providing a green and verdant scene, beautifully constrained I thought by the metalic framework - this more than satisfied my desire for structure - loved this one too!
Hope to be back next year!