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Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon Garden Writer/Feature Writer West Country

  • Date Joined: 01 Jul 2008

Recent Comments

  • The Power of Purple

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2008 at 04:25 PM

     It wasn't just me then that was totally bowled over by Jekka's Purple display in the Floral Marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The judges awarded Jekka 'Best Exhibit in the Floral Marquee' which for her last exhibit in the floral marquees is quite an accolade. Especially as she has now received that award two years running.

    Next year she will be creating a show garden at Chelsea which will keep her more than fully occupied.


  • Practical garden design

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2008 at 04:01 PM

    Show gardens are fantastic. Each one is a snap shot inside the head of its creator or designer and every single one has a different message and a different style.

    When you look at them for their aesthetic beauty you don't always see the deeper levels, hidden messages and practical logistics that have gone into every square centimetre.  


  • Garden ideas for gardeners

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2008 at 03:29 PM

     One of the main reasons gardeners and garden lovers visit flower shows is to glean ideas for their own gardens. Most show gardens, large or small, have elements that can be translated easily into domestic plots.

    The Homebase Room with a View Garden was designed by Philippa Pearson. Her inspiration were the Rievaulx Temples and Terrace in North Yorkshire. "the garden was built to enjoy and access views of the hillside," she explains. "I was really inspired by the viewing gaps, so I've tried to bring accessing views and vistas on different levels into this garden."


  • Lettuce Lawns and books

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2008 at 03:05 PM

    Most keen gardeners can remember something inspiring from their childhood days in the garden. Our playstations were old coal bunkers, secret gardens among the shrubbery and temporary dens of runner beans. It's often those memories that encourage us into the wonderful hobby of gardening.

    The National Year of Reading Garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is designed to bring gardens, plants and books alive for children. It captures an essence of garden designer, Sally Court's own childhood but it isn't what she calls a 'children's garden'. "Children prefer adult gardens, they like to be intrigued and explore. This garden is a path that leads through a garden of imagination. In my childhood we had garden trails and there is an element of that here. We didn't have tree ferns though, we used to have secret trails through the rhododendrons."


  • Make a difference

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2008 at 12:46 PM

    We are constantly bombarded with advice, instructions and what can sometimes feel like emotional blackmail about saving the planet and helping the environment. As gardeners we are already doing a lot by growing flowers for insects, providing wildlife habitats and recycling waste material into garden compost. But we can all do more.

    The London Wildlife Trust's Future Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show demonstrates how we can adapt our gardens to the changing climate by using recycled materials and plants with low water requirements


  • Have you seen this tree?

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 05:29 PM

     Have you seen this tree?

    Anyone who has ever been burgled or mugged can sympathise with John Trott of Mendip Bonsai. Last month while he was exhibiting at the NEC, thieves broke into his nursery and stole seventeen of his precious trees.
    These are not just plants, or even precious plants, for John they are part of his psyche, part of a lifetime's work and totally irreplaceable.
    No doubt the thieves regarded them as a valuable commodity and chances are they were stolen to order, but they were never for sale. It's sad to think that they may end up in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to care for them properly, and even sadder if they end up at a car boot sale where they will realise just a fraction of their worth.


  • Such good fronds

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 05:01 PM


    New plants are the life blood of the floral marquees and the RHS flower shows. For real plant enthusiasts it is the anticipation of what is new that keeps them fired up with interest. What I love too are the characters who come rain or high water continue to battle with the elements to display fabulous arrays of specialist plants and as often as possible, new, rare and delightful specimens too.
    You can't miss the stand of Fernatix as these charismatic gentlemen simple ooze persona and frondliness.



  • Purple Goddess

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 04:58 PM

    I don't know how she does it but Jekka McVicar's stand within the floral marquee simply glows. You can literally spot it a mile off. This year the herb queen has done it again and created the most amazing display of mostly purple plants and to complement the effect she has a matching purple Trug Tub.



  • Vampire Protection

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 04:18 PM

    It's official, it doesn't matter who you are or how much you know about gardening, there's bound to be something to inspire you at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

    As head of Horticultural Advice at the RHS you'd think there wasn't much that would impress Guy Barter. But you'd be wrong.
    "I've seen everything at the show," he quips, "and I'm absolutely knocked out by the Growing Tastes Marquee. It's fantastic. The garlic in there is the most extraordinary I've ever seen. I thought I'd had a good year for garlic but their's are about four times the size of mine. And those Marshall's strawberries have resolved me to dig up my own strawberry bed and start again."

    The giant garlic is sure to be a showstopper. There are baskets full of freshly harvested bulbs, some complete with flower stems and all ready for use. So whether you are cooking with garlic, using it for medicinal purposes or have a few vampires to banish, head for the Garlic Farm stand in the Growing Taste Marquee.


  • Botham bowls into Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 03:30 PM

    Well known for his love of the outdoors, Sir Ian Botham pitched up to the rainy flower show this afternoon to support a Yorkshire Business. His vantage point for the afternoon was a capacious wicker effect giant ball complete with comfy cushions and room enough for two. He looked suitably at home in the Nest from Ampersand Lifestyle Garden Furniture, and confessed that he might actually invest in one for his garden at home. 


  • Shop til you drop

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 02:54 PM

    There's no denying it, us girls love to shop. For Rachel de Thame Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the perfect excuse to go shopping "I love the opportunity to spend money. It's great to see something, fall in love with it and then buy it," she says.
    She's been at it already and has purchased a child's bed, part of the display on Literacy Garden by Challock Primary School. "it's a metal bed for my youngest daughter," she says, "and when she's outgrown in I can plant it up with flowers."



  • You've been blogged

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 01:26 PM

    You've been blogged

    Now I know I am responsible for lots of things, and not all of them necessarily good, but I have never considered myself to have the power to control the weather, at least not for such long periods of time. But according to Joe Swift, the reason it is raining at this years' Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is because of me. "The weather's rubbish and it's all your fault," was his parting quip as I left him about to film his next slot for the BBC. And that was after he declared that although there were some great gardens at this years show, " overall I don't think it's as good as last year."

     Joe was sporting a rather large black umbrella, the sort that pokes you in the eye annoyingly when you are trying to get somewhere fast. I suspect that the reason it is raining is because of the big black rain clouds hovering over Hampton Court today, and despite the weather the exhibitors have created some absolutely fantastic gardens, floral displays and exhibits that they should be proud of. Even if I could control the weather I wouldn't because it is the uncertainty of the weather and the continued variety that makes every garden season different. I love the unpredictable nature of the weather and all that it brings, it brings out the best in people and is an important reminder to enjoy every moment when the weather is good and do something else when it isn't.



  • The Duchess of Cornwall arrives at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

    Jean Vernon on 07 Jul 2008 at 01:04 PM

    The Duchess Of Cornwall arrives at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show


  • The Secret is Out

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2008 at 04:40 PM

    Secret gardens are a bit like Christmas presents, they look fantastic in all their wrapping but can be a bit disappointing when you've taken off the paper to reveal what's really beneath. Through the door of the Croft Spot Secret Garden is a tranquil but fairly ordinary space; a neat lawn and some clipped topiary. It's secluded, it's private and it's simple. The wrapping however is much more interesting. This inner sanctum is surrounded by a loose bamboo hedge that softens the formality of the secret space giving it a lived in/loved in reality. It's seasoned with agapanthus, in soft blues and white that softens the effect further.

    Outside the planting is a bit more exciting. The path leads through an informal but colourful collection of borders and plants


  • Cyberman spotted at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2008 at 04:10 PM

    One of the great things about visiting the RHS flower shows on a regular basis is catching up with friends and colleagues at the shows.

    Normally you'll find Geoff Hodge - RHS Online Editor working away on his laptop in the press office until the early hours of the morning. How else do you think the medal awards are available to webusers as soon as they are announced. It's not a quick process and sometimes finds him burning more than the midnight oil in order to meet his deadlines


  • Edible Classrooms

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2008 at 03:07 PM

    Edible Classrooms
    It must be great for green-fingered kids growing up in today's world. When I was small (not that long ago really) you were lucky to grow a sunflower in a pot for gardening at school, or a few runner beans wrapped in kitchen roll and stuffed in a jam jar. It can't have been that uninspiring or maybe I was just hooked on plants already, but what I'd have given to have been able to grow and rummage in the raised beds at the Edible Playground at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
    Even the fence made of giant pencils is a covetable feature for youngsters. For me the raised beds of vegetables, the outdoor classroom and the fabulous workshop with a living roof are simply ‘drop dead gorgeous'.


  • Snow at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2008 at 01:29 PM

    The weather forecast predicted wind and rain but I really wasn't expecting to be in the midst of a snowstorm in the middle of July.
    A light but persistent snow shower was gently falling to the ground as I wafted past The Magic Garden this morning. It was captivating, uncannily realistic, and in today's topsy-turvy weather pattern, not really a total surprise.
    Even in its unfinished state this garden oozes energy and ambience. Surprising since on first inspection it is just a collection of simple plants, some white marble sand and a collection of white-stemmed birches.
    But as you enter through the willow wardrobe you can't help but notice the light and magic portrayed by this space. It's an enchanting winter garden and a snow machine completes the picture, a light drift of seaweed based ‘snow' creates a genuine feel of a winter snowstorm and with the temperature barely into double figures, it's an authentic effect. Venture through the stumpery, an interlocking wall of tree roots and you'll re-emerge in the summer garden, though if the wind is blowing the wrong way it will be snowing in there too.
    But it's all a bit of fun and just what the garden designer wanted to create. Francesca Cleary breathes and lives gardens and is totally in her element at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. "It's such a nice place to be in. It's the buzz of creating something that you wouldn't create for a client- it's wonderful," she says. "Over last winter we really got into the C S Lewis novels and I thought, wouldn't it be fun to create a winter garden, a woodland and to wander through that and magically arrive in summer." This could be the only place at this years Hampton Court Palace Flower Show where you can transverse the seasons willingly, but make sure you go from winter into summer and not the reverse or you may find the spell sticks and winter arrives forever.