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Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon Garden Writer/Feature Writer West Country

  • Date Joined: 01 Jul 2008

Recent Comments

  • A watery, sustainable end of the line?

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2009 at 09:42 PM

    Unless you've bought a railway cottage you wouldn't expect to have train track in your front garden. But as a reclaimed material it creates an interesting effect when used within a garden design.

    'The Rain Chain' is a garden that addresses many of the issues facing today's gardeners and home owners. Garden Designer Wendy Allen told me, "In the brief, I set the garden in a flood risk zone. It's in a small railway town by the coast, so the railway track ties in with the railway and the pebbles with the coastal theme."


  • Wildlife friendly and attractive?

    Jean Vernon on 10 Jul 2009 at 07:53 PM

    One of my favourite parts of this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower show is the group of sustainable gardens. Surprisingly, well for me anyway, it isn't a display of 'Grow Your Own' plots of vegetables. Instead there is great innovation, vareity and intrigue.

    One garden that really took my eye was the London Wildlife Trusts 'Life Cycle Garden'. It is an absolutely beautiful mix of soft pastel colours, wildflowers and much, much more. Within this tiny space there are masses of ideas and inspiration that can be repeated in garden plots all over the land, even in the city


  • Fifi and the Flowertots Hampton Court Debut

    Jean Vernon on 08 Jul 2009 at 10:31 PM

    Kids accompanied by an adult get in for free at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower show. This year there's a huge surprise in store for budding gardeners and Fifi fans, as the charasmatic Forget-me-not tot will be at the show this weekend. There's a whole Fifi zone for little greenfingers to play in all week, but the star of the show will be posing for pix and helping them plant this weekend.

    I caught up with Greg Lynn, Executive Producer and Managing Director of Chapman Entertainment that creates the show on Monday. He told me,"We've got a Fifi zone here today. Fifi and the Flower Tots has been one of the most successful preschool television shows of the last 4 years. One of the core things about Fifi in the show is her gardening, she lives in this beautiful garden, where everything is huge and that she is a very keen gardener. She grows all her own vegetables and fruit. She will pick one huge apple and make a massive apple pie for all her friends. So we espouse the virtues of gardening, healthy eating and I think Fifi has been a real boon to mothers to be able to encourage kids to get stuck into their vegetables. We've had lots of emails over the last four years from parents saying. "My daughter ate a blueberry for the first time today because she saw Fifi bouncing up and down on one like a space hopper." And although that's not why we made the show, we're here to make a piece of entertainment, we wanted to give it a nice organic feel and so we are here at the show to allow kids to come in and play in Fifi's world, to meet Fifi. Fifi is here, they can plant seeds, take away a pot and grow and nurture a sunflower, or go through the little assault course picking up vegetables and fruit from Poppy's market stall with a little wheelbarrow. It's just something for kids, something to introduce kids into gardening."
    We have Fifi here today and then she is back at the weekend. But during the week we've got all of this for the kids to do from planting seeds to learning about fruit and vegetables."


  • The Therapeutic Power of Gardens

    Jean Vernon on 08 Jul 2009 at 09:51 PM

    Garden lovers don't need to be told that plants, gardens and gardening is therapeutic, it's inherent knowledge in us all. Just a few moments spent in nature lifts energy levels, rejuvenates tired minds and feeds our souls.

     One garden at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show takes this concept and uses it as part of its message. 'Hope Begins at Home' has been designed to highlight and support the work of Combat Stress, which helps ex-servicemen and women suffering from Psychological injuries


  • Three cheers for Plant Heritage

    Jean Vernon on 08 Jul 2009 at 09:25 PM

    The Plant Heritage Marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is always an amazing place to visit and this year is no exception. There are 18 exhibits from National Plant Collection Holders showcasing some of the amazing collections from the UK. I was particularly enthralled by the display of rosemarinus from Downderry Nursery/Simon Charlesworth.

    The Plant Heritage Marquee was formally opened on Monday by BBC Gardeners' World presenter Toby Buckland. I caught up with him at the Hoyland Plant Centre stand, a fabulous exhibit of agapanthus and tulbaghia. I wanted to know what delights he had seen at the show. "I haven't looked around the show yet," he said, " I've just been in here but I would say I think the Plant Heritage Marquee is really fabulous and I just salute really the great work that everyone the NCCPG does. I think that they are the reason our land is green and pleasant, they are the gardeners working in the gardens up and down the land and I'm just humbled to be asked to work for them today."


  • going for gold

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 04:50 PM

    Jack Dunckley is possibly Britains youngest Garden Designer. He's certainly the youngest designer with a garden at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. It's been a busy year.In February he was invited to design a balcony garden at the London Plant and Design Show where he won a silver medal. In early May he built a show garden The Malvern Gardening Show, where he won a Silver Gilt.

    At this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show he has created A Desert's Delight, it's the largest show garden on site this year and his very first at Hampton Court.

  • I'm Henry VIII I am, I am

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 04:10 PM

     Having had a little trouble getting in to the showground this morning, Henry VIII was prancing around the showground this afternoon, mounted on his trusty steed.



  • Too busy to talk

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 04:01 PM

     I usually get to speak to Joe Swift at the RHS flower shows. In the past he has blamed me for the bad weather and even shied away from some garden hens. At this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show he was too busy to chat. Already late for his filming he waited very patiently while I took a mug shot, the only words he uttered to me were: "Hurry Up!". Sorry if I made you even later Joe. Thanks for the pic though. 


  • The other RHS

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 03:46 PM

     If you're on this website you are probably well aware that RHS stands for the ROYAL Horticultural Society. But did you know that there's another society that uses the same abbreviation?


  • Productive City Spaces

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 12:23 PM

    We are always reading in the gardening press that you don't need a big garden to grow fruit and vegetables. It's an easy claim to make but sometimes it's hard to get people to take the first step and have a grow.

    At this year's Hampton Palace Flower Show there are three small gardens and six balconies designed to show urbanites that anyone can grow food, no matter how smalal their outside space is. Children from local primary schools have come out of the classroom and helped create the 'Edible Spaces with Capital Growth' garden.

  • The Good Life

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 11:05 AM

    Grow Your Own has it's own momentum this year. Just take a look around this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and you'll see masses of ideas and inspiration to support your own efforts at self sufficiency, how ever large your garden.

    The Growing Tastes Allotment in area C of the showground is a blaze of colour and texture. There's plenty of planting combinations, techniques and creativity to absorb and it looks fantastic too. "It doesn't take a huge amount of expense to grow your own anyone can have a go at it, you can grow in a tiny site and it's just as effective. We are trying to show really good quality horticulture and our brief was to they wanted a traditional allotment and a cutting garden," explains garden designer Mary Payne. "You have to have a bit of drama and make it look attractive to the public, I am chuffed to bits with it."


  • But I live here

    Jean Vernon on 06 Jul 2009 at 10:37 AM

     Henry VIII and his wives were due at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this morning to be filmed promoting the Six Wives of Henry VIII Gardens at the show.

    Dressed in their finery they apparently arrived at the gate without a pass


  • Enchanted Garden

    Jean Vernon on 05 Jul 2009 at 05:05 PM

    I haven't seen all of the gardens at this years Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, but there are several that have really caught my eye.There are some fabulous colour schemes and planting combinations within the show gardens in particular.


  • Aliens have landed

    Jean Vernon on 05 Jul 2009 at 03:40 PM

    There's always a bit of controversy at RHS Flower Shows. At RHS Chelsea there was the Paradise in Plasticine. At Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2009, the jury's still out, but my vote (just for its nerve and controversy) must go to 'Monstruosa', the conceptual garden by Fernando Gonzalez of Metagardens. 



  • Not a drop to drink

    Jean Vernon on 05 Jul 2009 at 03:15 PM

    It's a hot and sunny day at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The Press Office is rather warm and the water dispenser is Out of Order! 

      For some reason (?) two large bottles of water were delivered to the Press Office for our refreshment, complete with some very green and not so tasty water growths aboard. I like the idea of green water, ie eco friendly, but we won't be partaking in this algal delicacy, thanks. So unlike the wilting plants that are being constantly irrigated around the showground with drinking water, via a hose pipe, we are more than a little bit parched in here. The Long Water looks incredibly inviting. Anyone for a dip


  • Connection with nature

    Jean Vernon on 05 Jul 2009 at 02:29 PM

    Paul Stone's really had his work cut out this how. He's created two Small Gardens for Rachel's Organic, the main show sponsor.  The first one, 'Passion for Taste, "connects with the products that go into Rachel's Organic produce and is a garden that ties in with the ideals of Rachel's Organic. It has good environmental and social policy. All the materials are low carbon footprint materials, sustainable and reclaimed timber," explains Paul. 


  • A load of old Knickers

    Jean Vernon on 05 Jul 2009 at 02:09 PM

    There's a whole load of dirty washing at this year's RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Several washing lines loaded up with underwear have been heavily disguised and planted with a variety of flowers and vegetables. 



  • What's in store at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show?

    Jean Vernon on 02 Jul 2009 at 10:03 AM


    There's always a great sense of anticipation in the lead up to the RHS Flower Shows and Hampton Court is no exception. I know that you shouldn't have favourites, but if I really had to choose which one show to visit each year Hampton Court Palace Flower Show would win everytime. It's a horticultural extravaganza of everything that is wonderful, vibrant and ground breaking in gardening. It doesn't have quite the same prestigious feel as Chelsea, but I like that. I love the fact that you can wander around the show at ease and have space and time to observe everything you want to see (well if you're not working there).


  • 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.