Some Victorian style comes to the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park …

Some Victorian style comes to the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park …
Not only is Victoriana high fashion on the catwalks, but the gardening world is also embracing this golden age, with a number of designers at this year’s RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park using 19th century style as their inspiration.

The ultimate Victorian garden accessory is the fern, a hardy plant that is easy to maintain and thrives in shade.  It comes in all sorts of attractive colours, shapes and textures, with many displaying deep and glossy greens, long oval leaves and soft lines.

Robert Frier of Charlesworth Design is dressing his suburban back to back garden with ferns to create a relaxing, tranquil, yet low maintenance retreat entitled ‘Pteridomania’, literally meaning ‘Mad for Ferns’.

Each fern will be grown in its own preferred environment, either in walls or close to water, and the plant is even incorporated into the garden’s stepping-stones, which imitate the unfolding fern fronds.

As Robert says, “With this garden I am hoping to celebrate both the versatility and the beauty of the fern.  Not only can this wonderful plant survive in difficult environments, but each variety can add a new and interesting dimension to any outside space.

Another 19th century ‘must-have’ was a stumpery, which would be the envy of any Victorian naturalist – the celebrated protectors of wildlife who collected and catalogued different species.

Uprooted tree stumps would be arranged to form a haphazard, natural sculpture, the hollows of the stumps providing a place for ferns, woodland plants and even a safe haven for wildlife.

Designers Jo Capstick and Nicky Saddington, have used the stumpery as their muse and central focus for the back to back space they’ve designed for Cheshire Wildlife Trust.  Victorian exotics such as evergreen shrubs and tree ferns are incorporated, while a still pool helps to enhance the garden’s peaceful atmosphere.

No Victorian look would be complete without a richly ornamented cast iron structure, such as that featured in Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s design for the Show’s RHS National Flower Bed Competition.

Weaving traditional Victorian planting like marigolds and lobelias around the structure, the bed pays homage to the town’s Corporation Park and its iron conservatory, which opened in 1857.  White areas on the bed represent a series of picturesque paths, enhanced by colourful rhododendrons and contrasting beautifully with the greens portraying the park’s dense mature woodland.

A number of other exhibitors at this year’s show are also harking back to this bygone era - Clive Scott’s stunning show garden is a tribute to Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ poem about the 1854 Battle of Balaclava, while Knutsford Town Council is celebrating the Penny Farthing and Mansfield District Council its Victorian railway heritage in the RHS National Flower Bed Competition.

In its eighth year, the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park is renowned for its avant-garde designs and promoting fresh, young talent.  2006 will see the usual high standard of both traditional and contemporary gardens displayed.

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