Thursday, 19 July 2012

RHS Tatton Park

I was about as unprepared for going to Tatton as you could be - no plant lists, no nurseries to look out for, no gardens on my list of must sees.  A big blur of family things had taken up all my time and thought and suddenly it was Tuesday and Michelle, Karen and Jane were arriving late afternoon and there were beds to be made and no food in the house.  The long awaited shepherd's hut was arriving the next day and the bit of my brain that had not been taken up with family stuff had been occupied making curtains and cushions.  I looked up and it was the day before we were going to Tatton.  Aaargh, time to engage.

I went to Tatton years ago, soon after it became an RHS venue.  I don't remember much about it.  I think there was mud.  The show gardens were very small.

On Wednesday  the forecast was for constant rain so we arrived with wellies and waterproofs.  The sun shone all day and my feet got hot.  I was going to show you a host of evocative photographs of the show but my general abstractedness seems to have seeped into my camera and there are a lot of photos which somehow miss the point or cut the head off.  So here, in no particular order are my impressions of Tatton, with and without photos:

There are lots of staff and marshalls and porters and they are universally friendly and cheerful and helpful.  I don't know how they did it or where they got them from but they are fab.

Loads to see in the Floral Marquee and some great little nurseries.  My favourites?

Bluebell Cottage, run by Sue Beesley - great plants, really helpful staff and a good garden too if you visit.

Cath's Garden Plants - as it says on the tin.  Always has that plant you are trying to track down.

Trecanna nursery - this was a new one on me, specialising in bulbs and crocosmia.  They had a perfect piece of planting on their stand, which this photo does not do justice to.


Crocosmia Lucifer, white achillea, sparing verbena bonariensis, carex.  Very simple, very stunning.

I wasn't blown away by the show gardens although there were three which I liked very much.


A Taste of Ness by Philippa Probert for Ness Botanic Gardens had for me the best planting in the show.


World without Torture by Howard and Dori Miller for the Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture set up a fluttering confusion of peace and unease.


I loved the shapes and vibrant colours of Nature Squared by Reaseheath College.

The Best in Show garden left me cold as you can probably tell by this rather unsympathetic photograph: too much hard landscaping, not enough planting, not enough soul.


But really I am not a lover of show gardens.  Every now and then one will turn your head and make you engage and over turn your preconceptions and perhaps it is worth seeing a hundred gardens which seem to have been designed by computer for the one which shakes you up.  But really I like gardens which belong to a place and which take years to grow.  I am the wrong audience.

What I was really there for was the company and the plants and the giant vegetables.


I had a great day.  The sun shone.  I bought Eryngiums and salvias and I saw Monty Don who unaccountably did not seem to be aware that I had spent half the morning defending his presenting of Gardeners' World so did not engage me in grateful conversation.  It is a good show.  I shall go again.

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I always think I will go to these things but then worry it'll be too crowded or just talk myself out of it! Have you ever been to Ness Gardens? I have made it there, at least!

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    1. Haven't been to Ness but really should. It's not far away and I have been meaning to for about 7 years. Dynamic eh?

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  2. Thanks for sharing. I always think I will go to these things but then worry it'll be too crowded or just talk myself out of it! Have you ever been to Ness Gardens? I have made it there, at least!

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  3. Not so sure about the 'Best in Show' garden either. It looks not quite finished and rather lacking in plants still I'm sure the floral marquee made up for that. :)

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    1. Yep, very heavy on the hard landscaping in my opinion! Floral Marquee was fab though.

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  4. Crocosmia is lovely. Seldom is it seen in the states, more in the past few years. I have a fairly large cropping of it. Do you have Montbresia as well? (not sure of the spelling). I too prefer gardens that are a bit untamed . . . Displaying the soul a bit more . . . Hard scape show garden appear less natural to me. Somewhat contrived. I so enjoy your garden tours and your posts!

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    1. Thanks Lynne! Glad you like the blog. I have Crocosmia Lucifer and wouldn't mind some more. Montbretia grows wild in lots of parts of the UK and tends to have less flower. I don't have it in the garden but do have a bit of a soft spot for it by the roadside.

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  5. Elizabeth - I am so jealous you got to Tatton and I didn't! I had vainly hoped that I would get there yesterday too (as I am now an RHS member) but sadly it is always too close to our departure for France and there are just too many other things I have to get through. Taking a day at Tatton and buying a load of plants which would then need to be planted would not help my cause! Anyway, I'm glad that YOU got there after all these years. I have been a couple of times in the distant past too (when we first moved up here) and enjoyed it very much. Especially in the sunshine. (Like you, I had imagined endless rain yesterday, which was another reason not to go - but hey, I should have kept the faith and be rewarded!). Just think, we could actually have MET UP!!

    We were asked at Reaseheath if we could help set up their show garden and I would have loved to have done but the girls broke up unusually early this year so it wasn't viable. Such a shame. Would have been a good experience. Thank you at least for providing a photograph of it to satisfy my curiosity! Glad you liked it. I agree with you totally on show gardens. That is absolutely not my thing either. Too self-conscious, too engineered. Like you, for me a garden is all about spirit of place. We sing from the same song sheet. The show garden winner leaves me cold too - too much hard landscaping, as you say. Soul-less.

    Love your header photo - and had I been to Tatton I would have purchased some white digitalis. They are much needed to lighten up a dark corner of my patch. I have many of the purple, of course. I do love them.

    Hope the shepherd's hut has arrived safely and have fun!
    x

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    1. It would be great to meet you sometime. I would love that. Maybe you can get over here once the girls are back at school? I did think of you when I was looking at the Reaseheath garden. The use of colour was really good. Have a glorious time in France!

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  6. You've summed up my feelings about Tatton pretty well too! I've concentrated on the Fruit and Veg over at mine and thoroughly enjoyed reading the Blackden Trust's write up about gooseberry competitions whilst researching the links for my post.

    It was lovely to see you and share some of your excitement about your new arrival. Thanks to you and Ian for your hospitality on Tues/Wednesday :)

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    1. Great to see you too and to have your company. I wish I had taken a photo of that fabulous gooseberry display case now!

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  7. There are so many shows, gardens, open gardens etc in your part of the world. Not so many here. I satisfy my longing by peering over fences and gates as I walk through the older parts of town.
    The 'best in show' was quite awful!....like the landscaping in the parking lot of a suburban shopping centre.

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    1. Ah, two of a kind as to the best in show! I think to be fair to it I should say that my photo is not sympathetic. I dare say you could find something which made it look a lot better. But my photo is not untrue to it either!

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  8. Why on earth would you have to defend Monty Don? He's a fabulous presenter! And such a gardener too.....

    I have to agree with you about that Best In Show - awful, just awful. What were the judges thinking?

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    1. I agree with you about Monty but I have a friend who finds his presenting style patronising. We have a perennial argument about it!

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  9. I think show gardens should be allowed artificial sun, for so much depends on the light. (Imagine the garden at night, or at dusk - it would look, if it looked at all, quite different). Some displays need sunshine, others can be quieter; vibrant green goes well under a wet and grey sky. How do you control for light? And all gardens look more lovely after a couple of glasses of chilled white wine. Perhaps there should be vintners' gardens, all beautiful lawns, lavender and nasturtiums with silver ice buckets glinting between the fronds.

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    1. I love the idea of a vintner's garden Fennie. And you are so right as to light. Even in my garden there are parts which need sunshine to look anything at all and other parts which can cope with grey.

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  10. A great day out. Sunshine and good company. Thanks so much for your hospitality. It was very much appreciated. Don't worry, MD didn't notice me either!!

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  11. We went the very first year, but I haven't been back since. Totally agree with you re. the best of show garden ... that's a funny kind of paradise. I sometimes think show judges have forgotten what the word 'garden' actually means!

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    1. There was some lovely planting in the mornflake garden Annie! Just not enough of it for me.

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  12. Love it all, but especially that wild red thing at the end!

    I've gotten a facelift. Come by my place and see! *wink*

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    1. The wild red thing is a display of chilli peppers! Isn't that fab?

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  13. How very lucky you are to have seen this show in person. I watched it on BBC one evening and it was beautiful. I just found your blog through Nan's and am planning on looking back at some old posts.

    Hugs from Holland ~
    Heidi

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    1. Good to meet you Heidi. I love Nan's blog too.

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