Friday, 1 February 2013

Opportunity to Design a Garden for Hampton Court Flower Show

Child Friendly Garden - Hampton Court Flower Show
Child Friendly Garden - Hampton Court Flower Show

My ears pricked up when I heard a competition for non-professionals to design a Family Friendly Garden announced on the BBC’s One Show this week.  The winner will have the garden built at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in July.  Family friendly gardens and how to achieve them are matters very close to my heart.  When I manage to attend a flower show I always head to those show gardens which claim to be child or family friendly.  Sometimes there are some really good practical ideas displayed, in others the lack of practicality and imagination involved  is sometimes a disappointment.

The One Show undertook a little competition on the programme.  Three people, with some help from a professional gardener, had each designed their own family friendly garden that day.  A lady with a nine year old and teenager had divided her 8 m x 8 m site into three sections to meet the individual needs of the family.  A barbeque area for the adults, a chill out zone for the teenager and an area where her youngest could perform plays. This garden was the winner on the programme.   A guy with a two and half year old wanted a garden where his tittle one would learn not be scared of spiders.  A wildlife and insect friendly garden was top of his priorities.  The final participant included a shelter in the middle of her garden so that the garden could be used in wet weather with a pathway running to and from the structure.

The  garden divided  into three sections was the winner on the programme.   Christine Walken, the One Show’s resident gardener encouraged anyone to have a go.  She thought that those without professional training would be more likely to come up with innovative and inspiring ideas.

I was interested to learn what the RHS considered to be family friendly, given the diversity of families in the country and their needs and wants. Not unsurprisingly the judging criteria for the 8m x 8m is flat site is very broad, but provides an interestingly insight into how gardens are judged at Flower Shows.

Judging Criteria to be used for the Garden
  • How well does the design work for the family?
  • How interesting and creative is the design?
  • Are the plants used creatively and effectively?
  • Is the design wildlife/insect friendly?
  • Does the design consider sustainability issues (eg sources of materials)?
  • How realistic is the rough budget? (to be refined with mentor later)

I am pleased to see sustainability issues included.  There was also a discussion on the Show on what the garden could not include.  No gnomes apparently!  So I guess the gnome I have inherited in my garden will have to wait a little longer before he comes back into vogue in the garden design world.
Garden gnome

So as someone without a garden design qualification will I put an entry in?  I would love to have a go, but not certain that the 1 March Deadline will give me time to draw and write up a proposal.  If you have the time it’s a great opportunity to have a go at designing that garden you have always wanted. And if you were to win!
If you are not too sure where to start take a look at some books on designing family friendy gardens.

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