A review by Julia Gasper
This year’s Blenheim Palace Flower Show was an absolute triumph. Since it was started, it has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the established highlights of the Oxfordshire summer season. Blessed by the weather, it was a glorious day of colour, high spirits and fun in a magnificent setting.
With a huge array of delectable flowers and plants from specialist producers, together with garden furniture, garden ornaments, horticultural implements and accessories, there was everything here to tempt and excite the garden enthusiast. Everywhere you looked, inside the cool shady marquees or outside where arrays of stalls displayed their merchandise, people were milling excitedly and carrying leafy trophies back to their cars looking as if Birnam Wood had come to Dunsinane. Even if we think our gardens are full and we haven’t got space when we have seen such tempting specimens of roses, lilies, orchids, fuschias, clematis, delphiniums, rhododendrons, geraniums, ferns and flowering shrubs from all over the globe, who can resist just adding something to a spare corner?
Plants need containers and there were some very good quality pots, glazed and unglazed, to add character to a patio. Plants also love to have support, and there were stylish arches, columns, and frames to create structures. If you like a bit of retro or nostalgia for your garden – and the garden that won the Gardener’s World prize this year was all retro and nostalgia – there were displays from reclamation yards full of treasures and curios, sundials and old ironwork.
Something I loved was the shaded swinging bench, inside an arbour that could be covered with wisteria or jasmine to provide a scented haven. They come in at £350 from Churnet Valley and are so comfortable you might just fall into a doze. Forget those spartan hammocks! Comfort is worth it.
The Blenheim Flower Show makes a wonderful family day out. You can picnic, enjoy ice-cream or Pimms, and stroll around the palace which is always visible in the background. It is a tradition that deserves to have a great future.