Tatton Park Flower Show - 2012

On the 20th July 2012 I had the pleasure to visit the RHS Tatton Park show.

This is quite a large show with a number of seperate features, e.g. Show Gardens, Garden Design Competitions and inter school competitions plus many others.

For convenience and simplicity I have laid this blog out to discuss each category separately.


Back to Back Gardens

These gardens are designed to feature realistic aspects that can be developed in part, or in full to a normal domestic situation in suburbia.

Second Chance

This garden has been designed and built by students from Clusius College in the Netherlands.

The Second Chance element in the title refers to the use of recycled materials.

Willow is the main element with hand made willow fences and pollarded willow trees.

The footpath is made from recycled rubber chippings retained with building bricks from a demolition site.

Empty wine bottle partition off the garden into separate areas.

The roof of the gazebo is covered with grasses,sedums and herbs.

Surplus water from the roof is re-routed by means of a zig-zag waterfall made from recycled guttering.

This garden won a Bronze medal.

Care Home Garden

At first glance it appears to be a conventional garden with a seating area and raised beds.

But on closer inspection one can see the beds / boxes are transferrable planting baskets.


This system has been designed by Instaplanta Systems.

The planting baskets can be lifted out, transported, and tended indoors if necessary, thus providing opportunities for residents to garden in all weathers.

This garden received a Silver medal.

Growing Together

This is a horticultural representation of a Family Refugee Support Project.

It has been inspired by a project in Toxteth, an area of Liverpool.

The Growing Together aspect is to develop a multi-cultural relationship with locals and asylum seeking families through horticulture.

In otherwords; friendship grows as the mixture of flowers and vegetables grows!

This garden won a Silver medal.

No Corners just Curves;

This design is true to its title, in so far as it is devoid of square shapes, and straight lines.

The curves extend to the patio, lawn, path and even to the top of the fence!

This garden won a Bronze medal.

One Man went to Mow

This is a modern take on a wildflower meadow, features a gravelled area surrounded by wild flowers and grasses.

The plants are drought tolerant, and the man made surfaces are free draining which makes this garden relatively easy to maintain.

This garden won a Silver gilt medal.

Peak Reflections

As the title suggests this garden is a reflection of the Peak District.

The embankment, natural stone paving and and water channel is reminiscent of former railway lines.

The drystone walling and stile give a sense of enclosure!

The planting colour scheme features colours from the Blue John mine in Derbyshire.

This garden won a Silver gilt and was deemed to be the Best Back to Back Garden.

Rachel's Retreat

This garden was built and designed on behalf of the NSPCC and was subject to a limited budget.

Aptly named with its handmade summer house, sunken garden, and colourful planting,
this is indeed, an area that one would feel comfortable to retreat into.

This garden one a Bronze medal.

Sister Suffragette;

This garden incorporates many features associated with the Suffragette Movement of a century ago.

For example: The sculpture stands in a bed of blood grass (Imperata cylindrica-Rubra) and the Dahlia is a variety called Passionate.

The predominant colours in the planting sheme are: purple, green and white, the colours adopted by the sufragette movement.

A 'U' shaped path represents the Governments U turn in granting women the vote in 1912.

The building represents a Prison Cell where many of the demonstrators ended up in.

The mirror at the rear of the exhibit indicates that the act would not be realised until 1918,and woman would not receive the vote until 1928.

This garden won a Silver gilt medal.

Urban Escapism;

This exhibit shows how a small partly shaded plot with an interesting, yet contemporary style.

The plants selected can tolerate partial shade, the Dicksonia tree ferns add structure to the garden.

The different shades of green blend well with the pastel backdrop.

This garden won a Silver medal.


The RHS National Flower Bed Competition

This is a competition that is open to local authorities and communities from the UK.

The theme this year was A Celebration of Sport in celebration of the 2012 London Olympics.

All competitors are allocated a 7m x 4m plot,where they can use a wide range of plants and accessories to represent the theme.

Due to the length of the exhibits it was necessary to take more than one picture of some of the exhibits to try and show them off at their best.

An RHS panel of judges determined the allocation of medals.

These were the entries:

Bowman of Bucklow

by Partington Parish Council

This flower bed has an Archery theme to commerate The Partington and Warburton Archery club that existed in the area many years ago.


by Frinton in Bloom.

This too has an Archery theme commemorating the local Frinton on Sea Archery club.

A Willow sculpture depicts a bowman in action, and surrounded by gold, silver and bronze floral targets, complemented with arrow like feather grass.

Going for Gold

by Manchester City Council.

This exhibit is depicted by a floral running track with a hurdler in action.

The sculptures represent the sports of fencing and boxing, and a gold medalled athlete celebrating on a floral podium.

Jubilee 2

by Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council.

This exhibit represents Swimming with its floral pool and starting blocks.

The sculpture commemorates the recently opened Jubilee 2 Health and Wellbeing centre in Newcastle Under Lyme.

Olympic Breeze

by Birmingham City Council.

The theme here is Sailing and the depiction is that of Ben Ainslie one of the UK's most decorated yachtsmen.

Paddling to Success

by Bucksburn Aberdeen.

The theme here is Slalom canoeing and features a Kayak in Team GB colours.

This display is supported by Aberdeen Kayak club, some of the clubs members will competing in the London Olympics this year.

Scotland-Home of Golf

Dumfries & Galloway Council.

Not an Olympic sport this year but is to be included in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The flower bed depicts some of the features that might be found on a golf course.

For example, the green, the rough and the fairway complete with a tree and water to form typical obstacles.

Surfing Jersey

St Helier Parks Department.

This flower bed surprisingly won the accolade Best Flower bed yet it does not represent an Olympic Sport which is rather surprising knowing how the RHS a sticklers for accuracy!

Never the less it was an excellent exhibit and demonstrated the long tradition of surfing on the island of Jersey.

In fact: The Jersey Surfboard Club founded in 1959 is the oldest in Europe and has produced many British and European champions.

The Long Jumper

Darlington Borough Council.

As the title suggests this exhibit depicts The Long Jump.

The colour scheme used really catches the imagination of the event, with the red of the run up track, the white of the take off board and the yellow sand emphasising the silhouette of the long jumper.

Vaulting Ambition

by E Smith & Son.

This was not actually an official entry into this category, but this Nursery tried to get into the spirit of things with this depiction of a Pole Vaulter.

Such is the camaraderie of the Tatton Flower show!

Way of the Roses

by Lancaster City Council.

Depicting Cycling, this exhibit is representing the coast to coast race entitled: Way of the Roses.

This race covers 170 miles and links Bridlington in North Yorkshire and Morecambe in Lancashire, and passes through the cities of York and Lancaster.


The N.A.F.A.S Floristry College Competition.

This is a new competition for 2012, and is open to floristry college departments throughout the country.

Each college is alloted a 2.5m x 2m space, and the theme was Flights of Fancy.


Askham Bryan College


Bishop Burton College


Roseheath College

Askham Bryan College won best exhibit.

The following exhibits were displayed by professional florists from around Cheshire and the North West of England:


NAFAS - Cheshire Area - Best Exhibit


NAFAS - North West Area


Black Tulip


Plato's Atlantis


Somerset Postal Flowers


The Orchestra Gardens

This is a new category at Tatton this year and is sponsored by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

The brief was: Create a garden to represent a section of an orchestra, e.g. brass, percussion, strings or woodwind.

This was the result:

Air on a Green String

As the title suggests this exhibit represents part of the string section of an orchestra.

The garden has a decidedly Italian feel to it, to portray the invention of the violin in Italy in the 16th century.

The pergola at the rear of the garden represents the stage where brightly coloured violins, covered in creepers, hang from its roof.

The topiary hedges are shaped in the form of a cleft (the f shaped sound hole on a violin)

This garden won a Silver Gilt medal.


The design is based on the sound of the brass section of the orchestra.

The sunken area filled with brightly coloured flowers to represent the music, and projecting brass tubes represent the brass section of the orchestra.

To complete the exhibit, the designer has formed a platform and music stand for the conductor.

This garden won a Gold medal.

The Science of Strings

This exhibit depicts the science behind the sound produced by stringed instruments.

The concentric circles represent the bridge on a stringed instrument, and the suspended wires the strings.

The undulating lawns represent sound waves and the purple flowers the notes.

This exhibit won a Gold medal.

The Strings Garden

This garden is themed on stringed and woodwind instruments.

The undulations in the cables and rock formations replicate sound waves as does any ripples that form on the water.

The waterside vegetation (reeds)are used in woodwind instruments.

The wind through the planting and structures will also produce sound!

This exhibit won a Silver medal.

To the Beat

This exhibits depicts the beat of a drum.

The rippling pool represents the waves of pressure emitted from the drum when struck, and the spreading circles of flowers, represent an extension of these waves.

This garden won a Gold medal and the title; Best Orchestra Garden.


The Show Gardens

These are generally designed by professional designers and sponsored by various commercial enterprises who in turn, often donate any proceedings to charity.

This year there were sixteen different garden designs to look at, these I will discuss in alphabetical order!

A Perfect Match

This garden was built in support of the Kidneys for Life programme, at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The design represents the Perfect match of blood and tissue needed to ensure a successful transplant.

The planting represented the the tissue and the rill the filtration and blood flow.

This garden did not receive a medal of any description.

A taste of Ness

This garden is a representation of the Making Waves garden produced by Arthur Bulley at Nesss Botanic Gardens (

It represents the three areas in the original garden, namely: water, sandstone and the slopes.

The central pond is surrounded with a timber a deck, from which a path leads to a sitting area paved with sandstone.

The slopes are represented by the turfed mound to the rear of the exhibit, which perhaps in hindsight, could improved the exhibit if it had been much larger.

This garden won a Silver Gilt medal.

A year in the life of Dreamscheme

This garden was designed by the young people attending The New Charter Dream Scheme (

The circular garden is split into four areas to represent the four seasons, where the planting is representitive of these seasons.

The sedum roof is sustainable and the willow features have been hand crafted by the young people.

This garden received a Silver medal.


This Enchanting circular garden was designed and constructed by two ladies, one of whom was responsible for the soft planting, and the other the structure.

The theme is inspired by the many Follies that were built in the 18th century.

This one depicts a folly that has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair and become a ruin.

The designers have used this ruin as the backbone for some varied planting.

Generally the plants used were synonymous with those types that may have grown naturally on a ruined building.

This in turn created a habitat for wildlife, as did the nooks and crannies / crevices in the stonework.

Added to this due to the areas of sunshine and shade created by the shape of the buiding, care has been taken to plant plants suited to light and shade.

Similarly they have created a sheltered sitting area with a sunny aspect.

This garden won a Silver medal.

Interplanetary Travel - A Flight of Fancy

This garden was designed and constructed by the current owners of Tatton Park, and has been designed to fit in with the parks theme for 2012 Flights of Fancy.

Previous owners of Tatton Park estate have travelled far and wide over the years to collect plants for the gardens.

So as a flight of fancy they have decided to use a 1930's style rocket ship to do just that.

The depiction is that of a rocketship that has crash landed on a distant planet, and the plant contents within the hold of the rocketship have spilled out onto the barren soil and produced a veritable floral oasis.

This garden won a Silver gilt medal.

Making a Splash

This garden was been designed by Jackie Knightin and is a celebration of her being in the landscape business for twenty years.

It incorporates her trademark sandstone and moving water themes, with its stream running under a bridge into the pool, and its soft perimeter planting.

It also incorporates a sitting area with a summer house and something new for this show....a woodfired hot tub!

The orange colour of the tub definitely makes a statement in the overall appearance of the garden, however,this has been softened somewhat by the three stone obelisks in front of it.

The garden won a Silver medal.


The definition of Metamorphosis is to make a complete change in character and circumstance!

This garden was constructed by inmates of HM Prison Styal, and depicts a woman's journey from entering, to leaving prison.

To demonstrate this the design highlights the interaction between bees and the natural world, and how society could benefit from adopting the bee's sense of community.

This garden won a Silver medal.

Nature Squared

This garden formed part of the Garden and Landscape Design Degree course for year 2 students at Reaseheath College.

The theme of the exhibit was to demonstrate an urban garden built with commercially available materials.

It also had to show that it is possible to atract native wildlife to a garden by providing various forms of habitat, yet remain aesthetically attractive.

This garden won a Silver Gilt medal.


The design of this garden was intended to demonstrate that such a layout could be incorporated into part of a large garden, or into a smaller garden, by adjusting the proportions of the key features.

Reflections has a dual meaning.

Firstly the water reflects the surrounding planting, and the sitting area is a place where one can sit and reflect, and the noise of the moving water creates a soothing atmosphere in which to unwind.

This garden won a Silver medal.


The intention of this contemporary design is to create a modern appearance, yet retain the ambience of the old barn.


The furniture and paving blends in well with this idea, plus the planting can be formed of plants to suit many moods and seasons.

This garden won a Silver gilt medal.

Ring the Changes

Another garden designed by College students.

The garden celebrates the coming together of Bridge College and Manchseter College.

The Bridge College is a specialist college for students between the ages of 16 to 25 with disabilities, complex needs and autism.

Central to the design is the two connecting rings that symbolise the partnership between the two colleges.

The area around the two rings, represents common ground in which the staff and students can work, and relax as necessary.

This garden won a Bronze medal.

The Diamond Garden

This garden was designed celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

In designing it, the designer tried to maintain traditional styles by incorporating a walled garden effect, with classic features such as the paved sitting area.

The planting areas were designed so that the owner could fill them with plants of there own choosing.

This garden won a Bronze medal.

The Modern Romantics

A contemporary garden inspired by Hambridge Watermill and the painting of Sir Edward Burne-Jones's Sleeping Beauty.

The stainless steel balustrade and water spout add a modern slant to the garden.

The rills that feed into the mill pond are shaped like the curves of a river,and a meandering limestone path through the garden, completes the scene.

This garden won a Bronze medal.

The Mornflake Garden

A celebratory garden to commemorate the Lea family's involvement with milling since 1675.

The design acknowledges the part wind and water power has played over these years, with the inclusion of metal wind sculptures and a central circular well.

The stone wall feature at the rear represents ripples on the mill pond.

This garden won a Gold medal and was judged 'Best Show Garden'

Time & Tide - Caldwell & Canute

The title Caldwell & Canute represents the company name and logo.

Caldwells of Knutsford have traded since the 1780's to 1991.

The nursery logo of King Canute was the inspiration for the garden design.

The etherial stainless steel sculpture represents King Canute.

The spiralling shape represents the swirling sea of Canute's legend, and the charred oak bench and ceramic bowl completes the scene.

This garden won a Silver medal.

World without Torture

This garden was inspired by Quaker's concern for the abolition of torture (Q-cat)

The garden was interactive, in so far as the viewers could walk through it!

The front of the garden depicted a World without Torture and seen as a pool of still water, and broken posts that had been cast aside and trodden on.

The planting was mainly of white flowers first introduced by Quakers.

A stone figure releases a dove, with more doves escaping over a chailink and barbed wire fence.

This garden won a Gold medal.


Urban Oasis

This garden was designed by Chris Beardshaw.

It was designed to show what can be done in run down urban areas, such as back alleys, and areas of derelict land often found on / at the end of a block of terraced houses.

I could have, and should have, taken a picture of the other side of the exhibit, showing the deriliction and vandalism that is often associated with run down areas.

I will leave you to picture that in your own mind's eye!

For example: the mosaic shown in the pictures is there to cover up graffiti.

Renovated Back Alley

Renovated gable end hiding the grafitti


Visionary Gardens

Visionary gardens can push the boundaries of garden design by being either innovative, experimental, controversial or a combination of all three!

The brief to the designers was portray horticulural knowledge by using finely balanced artistic license, within the principles of garden design.

All of these can be seen in the following exhibits where subjects such as: GM foods, musical instruments and abstract art forms have been applied.


This garden depicts a subject that is controversial to say the least, as most people have their own views on "GM crops"


The garden is designed to highlight the potential risks involved in the development of GM crops.


The scene is an unsuspecting gardener plants a GM modified Blueberry bush only to find the following season that the fruit has grown to a gigantic size.

So much so it pushes the garden wall over!

The impication is not only does GM modification modify the plant/s, but it could also have wider implications on the wider natural world.

The designer admits to not being totally anti-GM, but he does have reservations, as I am sure many other people do.

This garden won a Silver Gilt medal.

The Bombe

This garden is in tribute to Alan Turing in recognition of his acheivments.

The design is based on Ciphers and Codes and includes hidden meanings and messages.

The plantings reflect Turing's methods in mathematical biology, and the sculptures represent the computer he designed.

This garden won a Silver gilt medal.

Untie the Wind

This garden has been inspired by wind instruments, the shape of sound waves and the magic of music.

The title comes from Macbeth in which the witches are said to have the power to untie the winds.

The pipe and path in the centre of the garden,is meant to take you through the journey of the air as it passes through a wind instrument!

This garden won a Gold medal and the title Best Visionary Garden.


Schools Container Competition

This year the subject fot this competition was to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and was entitled:

Jubilant Diamond Jubilee.

This competition is designed to encourage young children to grow and care for plants plus recycle materials in the process. (Click on the image to see the entries)

The judging was done by the viewing public,where they posted their preferance in a ballot box which would be opened at the end of the four day show.

The winner would be the exhibit that received the most votes.

Also this year there was a section for schools participating in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening to to enter a trug of fresh vegetables.

Sadly I do not have the result of this competition because I attended the show on the second day, meaning there were still two days of voting left.


School Front Gardens

I have to admit this is my favourite section of the show, as I see it, this is our future and it reminded me of the Taoist proverb:

Treat the earth well,

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

The essence of this project, sponsored by Barclay's Bank, and assisted by bank staff, in conjunction with the Winsford Education Partnership is to encourage children to work together in teams within the National Curriculum, and create gardens using Art, Design, History, Mathematics, Science, and technology in the process.

The subject of this years event was: Children's TV programmes.

Unlike other exhibits at the show this section was non-competitive, this was all about pride and the taking part, and this was shown to me in abundance as can be seen in the faces of some of the children involved.(Click on image to see slide show)


Trade Stands and Plant Societies

What would a show be like without the Trade Stands & Plant Societies ?

At most shows, they are the nucleus of the show, as they tend to fill the space that otherwise would be empty.


OK it is nice to see the Show gardens, but without the nursery and accessory traders, where would we get the material to develop the ideas we want to copy from these Show gardens?

In fact where do the show garden exhibitors get their materials?

Yes you have guessed it, they probably get them from many of these very traders.

At shows such as this we take ideas from the exhibits, locate sources of materials from the traders, but how do we get the knowledge to grow our purchases?

This can be remedied by joining one or more of these societies, and in this way we can all help to maintain the tradition of the 'Great British Garden'

When taking the pictures I had no fixed agenda, it was simply a case of snapping what caught my eye and as you will see,a lot of things did!

I have displayed the businesses in alphabetical order in order to show no preference, or association with these businesses.

Plant Societies


The Alpine Society


Hardy Plant Society




Tatton Park Garden Society


Worldskills UK

These gardens are built by apprentices studying and learning gardening and landscaping skills in their respective countries.

The UK organisation is managed by the National Apprentices Service together with partners in Education and Industry.

Worldskills is the largest international skills competition in the world and the competition takes place every two years, the next one is in Leipzig in 2013.

National competitions take place annually.

In this competition a pair of apprentices aged 18 and 23 who have competed against other apprentices at National level, have been selected to represent the UK and demonstrate their skills against other nations here at Tatton.

This is what was on offer:


This garden is a conceptual design of a home garden backing on to a woodland area.


This garden won a Gold medal and was deemed to be Best Workskill garden.


This garden is a modern interpretation of gardens found in Finland.


This garden combines western and Japanese lanscaped garden styles.

The stone wall represents Mount Fuji.

The water feature in the centre represents the open sea and the patterns on the surrounding pavings represents a world map.

The two elements together form a heart shape representing global friendship, peace and human happiness.

United Kingdom

This garden highlights drystone walling bordering a home garden and the countryside.

A stream flowing under the wall from the country side is utilised to form a water feature in the garden.


The RHS National Young Designer of the Year Competition

This competition was first introduced in 2009 and is sponsored by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

This year the RHS teamed up with the Society of Gardenen Designers (SGD) to promote the competition to a wider audience.

The SGD is the only professional association for gardeners in the UK, and since its inception thirty years ago, its aim has been to encourage Garden Design Excellance.

The competition is open to Garden designers under the age of 28 where they submit a scheme to be judged by an RHS Selection panel.

This year the theme was: Colour.

The three best schemes are then invited to build their design at the Tatton show, where their works are judged by RHS judges for RHS medals, and the ultimate title: Young Designer of the Year

The three designers for 2012 were:

Katharine Wills (aged 25) - A Prison Garden for Rehabilitation through Wellbeing.

Tristen Knight (aged 28) - Brownfield Beauty.

Andrew Percival (aged 26) - Subversive pigments articulating the DAYnight.

A Prison garden for Re-Habilitation.

This garden was built in collaboration with Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institute, to assist them in the re-habilitation of inmates.

The circular structure is deemed to create a sense of unity,where the outer area is designed to encourage movement around, and through space.

The inner circle is meant for rest and contemplation.

The access through the garden has been manipulated to invite exploration.

This garden won a Silver Gilt medal.

Brownfield Beauty

As the title suggests this garden has been designed to develop brownfield areas into oasis of colour and beauty.


The garden is part of the forecourt of a large industrial building that has been converted into flats.

The space has been kept industrial and rustic, and the planting and mock rill water feature, creates a relaxing atmosphere.

Four ventilation blind style screens, and the ornamental trees, create a sense of seclusion and privacy.


Vents Open


Vents Closed

This garden won a Silver Gilt medal and the title of Young Disigner of the Year for its designer Tristen Knight.

Subversive pigments; articulating the DAYnight

A public style garden designed to be use both day and night.

The garden is divided into three areas which are:

A streetscene frontage separated from the garden by trees to give a sense of enclosure.

Screens at the rear to represent a building.

Linear paving to knit the other areas together and draw people into the activity area.

Two raised planters encourage people to gather, with the lower planting merging into the activity area to form a colourful carpet.

A still water feature adds a reflective element to the garden.

This garden won a Bronze medal.


................and that concludes my blog on The Tatton Park Flower Show 2012

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