Two noticeable trends at this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show: new twists on recycling and, wait for it, crazy paving. One of my favourite gardens, The Power to Make a Difference, by Joe Francis (above right, below right), is a really well-thought out take on the perennial theme of recycling. Standing in the rubble was a huge ice sculpture that resembled shards of glass as it melted. In this garden, crevices of traditional concrete crazy paving were filled with mortar, then sand and finally grass as you moved round the garden, a lovely detail that demonstrated how nature encroaches when land is laid to waste.
At the other extreme, the fabulous show garden by Andy Sturgeon (above left, below left) used recycled plants, paving and sculpture from past Chelsea gardens to make a new space. And it was built by trainee landscapers to give them a taste of making a show garden. The theme here was how you can make something new from what’s around, and Sturgeon clearly had fun with the planting. In a conventional show garden, the planting has to have an integrity of its own; here, Sturgeon could use what was there in his own way, so there’s a splash of Agapanthus ‘Navy Blue’ with the feathery grey leaves of Crambe maritima flanking two tall cylindrical sculptures rescued from Cleve West’s Chelsea garden of a few years ago. Elsewhere, ferns make a vivid green filigree against the monumental bronze slabs borrowed from one of his own previous Chelsea gardens. And, a lovely touch this, the recycled paving was sliced into large, haphazard shapes, slotted together with narrow joints in a nod to crazy paving that looked unfailing modern.