The Good Life at Hampton Court

The Good Life at Hampton Court
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Growing your own fruit and veg is top of the menu at this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).  Supporting the RHS’s ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign, Hampton Court features a number of Show and Small gardens reflecting this hot trend, a dedicated marquee for showing delicious home grown produce, as well as demonstrations showing fabulous recipes for fresh garden foods.

Growing your Own is already hugely popular, with statistics from the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) showing expenditure on edible plants and seeds at an estimated £76.8m in the 12 months leading up to October 2006.  The RHS and BBC TV series ‘Grow Your Own Veg’ attracted around 3 million viewers a week and the RHS book ‘Grow Your Own VEG’ (published by Mitchell Beazley) reached no.2 in the top ten sellers list.  The ‘Grow Your Own’ bug is spreading rapidly and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is a feast of edible delights!

Then & Now Garden, designed by Elizabeth Stoner, shows two plots in a row of terraced houses.  One is typical of the late 1940s - filled with growing vegetables - the other shows what the same garden would look like today – a low maintenance, contemporary design, for recreational use.  The Daily Mail Village Post Office, Garage and Market Garden has a similar theme – the design reproducing the smallholder horticultural values of the 1950s, which relied on growing skills and emphasis on seasonal crop production.

Two Show gardens have looked to European nations for inspiration: The Torres Tapas Garden, by Anthea Guthrie, is a vegetable patch, with Mediterranean vegetables suitable for authentic tapas dishes.  The Homebase Garden of Reflections, designed by Thomas Hoblyn Design Agency, includes a selection of sumptuous Italian fruit, vegetables and herbs filling its borders. 

Other gardens are entirely devoted to the Grow Your Own theme.  Francesca Cleary and Ian Lawrence’s Mange Tout garden proves that it is possible for an average sized plot to be decorative, yet practical - almost everything can be eaten, including the flowers.  Maurice Butcher’s, The Giving Garden, shows how to create a garden with particular menus in mind.

Philippa Pearson’s The Sadolin Garden of Regeneration, focuses on current hot topics – the environment and all things organic.  Created using recycled wood, bricks and other materials, the garden is a cook’s dream space, devoted to the organic growing of fruit, vegetables and herbs.  A bench under the blossoming trees allows viewers to admire the ripening produce.

The Growing and Showing Marquee, in partnership with the New Covent Garden Food Company, on the 7-8 July, is filled with home grown produce brought in by gardeners and budding gardeners of all ages and abilities.  The fruits of their labours are entered into the Summer Fruit & Vegetable Competition, which has over 60 categories, from shallots, courgettes and potatoes to gooseberries, redcurrants and raspberries.  The Marquee also recreates the 3x3m plot featured on the RHS and BBC TV series, ‘Grow Your Own Veg’, showing how even a small plot can produce enough seasonal veg all year round.

It’s all very well growing delicious things to eat in the garden, but it’s also great to know how to prepare and cook them!  At Quaglino’s Kitchen in association with NS&I, Craig James, Head Chef of the renowned restaurant in St James’s, gives a series of cookery demos and talks, bringing to life delicious ideas for preparing summer vegetables, herbs, potatoes and soft fruits.

Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg Statistics and Trends

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (3-8 July) is THE fruit & veg flower show, reflecting the recent boom in the Grow Your Own sector – for the first time, sales of veg seeds are outstripping those of plant seeds.  Moreover, 300,000 allotments are now in use throughout the UK and with 13,000 people on five or ten year waiting lists for plots, demand for growing your own is at an all time high. 

Grow Your Own trends:
The edible crop market was worth £76.8m in the 12 months to October 2006, up 17% on the previous year and the market has enjoyed a 20% increase since 2002.    Below are some of the trends that according to Thompson & Morgan have emerged as the UK enjoys a Grow Your Own revival. 

Sales of potatoes are increasing the most year on year and Thompson & Morgan currently sell over 70 different varieties

  • Anything that grows in a container or box is especially popular, in particular herbs
  • Basil and Parsley are the most popular herbs to grow
  • Runner beans are the most popular summer vegetable to grow

Other popular seeds sold include:

  • Spring onions
  • Baby veg and salad leaves, especially ‘Little Gem’
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes, especially ‘French Breakfast’
For tickets to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, call the ticket hotline on 0870 906 3791 (public line) or 0870 906 3790 (RHS Members).  Tickets range from £13 to £30 with children aged 5-15 years £5 and under-5’s going free.  For further show information and online booking visit

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