The 2017 RHS Flower Show Tatton Park - photo special

Butterflies; Imogen Brown and Cassie Morgan of Cabasa Carnival Arts, Manchester

Butterflies; Imogen Brown and Cassie Morgan of Cabasa Carnival Arts, Manchester - Credit: Archant

The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park wowed visitors once again with fantastic horticultural displays, writes Rebekka O’Grady.

The Bread and Butter Theatre Company taking over the Norton Priory Museum and Gardens display

The Bread and Butter Theatre Company taking over the Norton Priory Museum and Gardens display - Credit: Archant

‘It just gets better and better each year. It’s so important for us to have an iconic show such as this in the North West,’ said the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Sarah Callander Beckett, when speaking about the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. Here at Cheshire Life, we couldn’t agree more. The five-day horticultural event is a special showcase of talent, and once again visitors flocked to Knutsford in their thousands to marvel at the stunning show gardens, the clever 6m by 4m back-to-back gardens and the displays in the floral marquee. ‘It’s inspiring for visitors as they can engage with various people from designers to charities and also take home ideas for their own garden,’ said Sarah, who owns Combermere Abbey in Whitchurch. ‘It’s absolutely fabulous, one of our great, special festivals and I couldn’t think of a better place than Tatton Park to host it.’

Sarah was speaking to me next to the Remember Me garden, one of the entries in this year’s Future Spaces category. Created in collaboration with the Mid-Cheshire Hospitals Charity by designers Jane Bingham and Penny Hearn of the Cheshire Garden, the garden scooped a silver-gilt for its aims to raise awareness of dementia and its effects.

‘My father has the onset of dementia so it’s very personal for me and I wanted to do something to help,’ said Penny. The garden tells the story of how the mind deteriorates, looking back in time in order to enjoy the present and the future. The big blocks of colour illustrate cohesive thoughts, along with 1960s and 1970s plants at the start, but as you move through it becomes more muddled into a mixed up wildflower meadow – with the odd pop of colour to represent a memory that reappears.

‘We hope that when the public see it, if they have a family member or friend suffering, they can take away some inspiration to help or put something old into their garden to act as a trigger.’

Richard Fox of Plantagogo in Crewe won a Gold Medal in the Floral Marquee

Richard Fox of Plantagogo in Crewe won a Gold Medal in the Floral Marquee - Credit: Archant

Elements of the garden will now be transported to Leighton Hospital, where they are running the ‘Everybody knows Somebody’ dementia appeal to raise £1.5 million to create their own outdoor space for patients and improve wards and departments to ease disorientation, agitation and distress and make people feel more at home.

Health was a theme shown across many of the gardens on display, including the gold award winning show garden, Facing Fear; Finding Hope. Created in support of Crohn’s and Colitus UK, the stunning garden was the idea of Denise Shields of Hawarden, who wanted to draw something positive from a terrible experience.

‘My son, Callum, nearly died aged 23 after a severe relapse from Crohn’s disease. So it was my bonkers idea to do this with no budget and raise awareness. The whole experience has been amazing and we are so grateful to our amazing sponsors.’

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Everything in the garden, which shares the story of the emotional journey of living with Crohn’s, was donated and is now for sale with proceeds going toward the charity.

‘The garden was costed at around £100,000 to produce, but only £6,000 was spent thanks to people’s generosity and those giving their time for free,’ said designer Peter Hulland from Sandbach. Together with fellow designer Rory Tompsett, this is the first show garden he has created.

‘It’s been hard work, but totally worth it. I spoke to Callum and his experience inspired the brief. The two distinct themes show what a sufferer goes through, and there’s no exit as there’s no cure. You can either be in a dark place, illustrated by the metal, black water and thorny plants, or live a happier life, with the brighter colours and flowing water symbolising improved health.’

Another first time competitor was James Youd, who took home a silver-gilt for his Back to Back Garden, Arley’s Thyme to Retreat. The designer is part of a team of five responsible for Arley Hall’s beautiful gardens and grounds.

‘I wanted to do a garden that was a tangible way for people to recreate at home. It’s a space that’s calm and tranquil, where you can get away from everyday life. I’ve taken inspiration from Arley’s garden, in particular the shrub roses and the arbour – an idea from our kitchen garden. It was a popular place for Lady Elizabeth, Lord Ashbrook’s mother, to sit,’ said James, who has worked at the stately home in Northwich for 13 years. He comes from good stock, with his father, Sam Youd, being the ex-head gardener at Tatton Park.

‘I included an element from my childhood here at Tatton, the alpine strawberries growing between the York stone. My dad told me not to, but I did it anyway and it looks great!’

Other highlights from this year’s show included a fantastic butterfly dome containing thousands of tropical butterflies from South America, Africa and Asia. The Bus Stop Boulevard showcased five entries from community groups, businesses and designers from the Greater Manchester area who decorated a bus stop with clever, eye catching designs. If this is what the 19th year of RHS Tatton brings, then we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the 20th anniversary next year.