Take a look around the stunning show gardens and the floral marquees at the RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2018
The first big event on the gardening calendar is the RHS Flowershow in Cardiff. It takes place in Bute Park, right next to Cardiff Castle, and has a definitely Spring-like feel to it.
I had never been to this show before, so I was really happy to get the chance to cover the event. Mark and I travelled down to Cardiff to take a look around the show, which is full of horticultural inspiration, family fun, and much more.
This post will first cover the beautiful show gardens of the RHS Flowershow Cardiff, then will take you on a tour through the Floral Marquees.
The RHS awards medals at each of its events as a mark of excellence. They are judged by a highly experienced panel, who award four grades of medal: Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver and Bronze.
There’s no limit to the number of medals awarded at a show, and if the judges consider that a display is below Bronze standard, it will not receive a medal.
Let’s take a look around…
The Show Gardens at RHS Cardiff 2018
It was very interesting to see how this show differs from the gardening shows that I’ve attended later in the year. The weather in April is quite changeable, which must make it very hard to plan a show garden.
I definitely thought that the show gardens at Cardiff were quite different to the ones that you tend to see at shows in the summer months.
The gardens here tended to be more architectural in design. There’s more more hard landscaping and evergreen planting, compared to the more floral style at the summer shows.
These gardens showcase the landscaper’s craft through innovative design and beautiful planting.
Evergreenwales: Cwm Caerdydd
Designed by Adam Davis and Richard Davis
This garden is a a beautiful representation of the local Cardiff landscape in miniature. Mark and I both liked this design, which received a Silver medal by the RHS judges.
The design features a ‘cwm’ seating area, waterfall and steps leading up to a rocky outcrop. It has been created as a space to relax and enjoy time with the family.
The planting features both wild planting and garden cultivars, and the garden imitates an area of woodland and the rolling hills of South Wales.
The designers have focused not just on the sense of sight, touch, smell and hearing, but also on how the garden makes you feel.
Designed by Petra Kodurant & Josef Lamburn
The designers of Suburban Euphoria have drawn inspiration from the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign. This is a contemporary design, full of practical and attractive ways to attract wildlife to a typical front garden.
The design aims to benefit the enviroment and increase biodiversity in a suburban garden. It features soft curves as well as clearly defined hard landscaping and planting areas.
The vertical planting on the pergola, living fences and integrated insect habitats are all ideas that you could easily incorporate into your own garden at home.
The RHS judges awarded a Bronze medal to this garden. I really liked the design of Suburban Euphoria, although Mark and I both felt that the execution of the design let it down a little.
Designed by Mike Furse
Mark and I spent a long time discussing Disequilibrium, which won a Silver medal from the RHS judges.
Mark has been involved in cultivating Bonsai trees for over 20 years, and it’s a subject that is very close to his heart. So he was very interested when he saw this garden on the Show preview guide.
It’s a representation of Japanese ‘nature’ in horticulture, with bonsai, spring flowers and intricate stone patterns. These contrast against the corrugated iron backdrop and charred timber which represent Japan’s industrial history.
The garden tells a story of motion and stillness, and nature’s resilience in the face of an industrial environment. We loved the design when we saw it on paper in the show preview. But we both felt that it didn’t quite work as well as we hoped in real life.
Bonsai generally seeks to place trees in a setting that imitates the tree’s natural environment. Mark pointed out that the white flowered Fuji Cherry tree was out of place in this setting. And I also noticed that the tree at the back has very visible wiring.
These may be minor points to many people. But for us, they spoilt what is overall a very imaginative garden design.
The Regeneration Gardens
The Regeneration Garden category is a new feature at the show this year. In this category, the designers are recent landscape architecture graduates. Their challenge was to create beautiful gardens featuring unusual materials and practical ideas.
The Reflection in the Past Garden
Designed by Shin Myungia
A childhood memory of playing in an old bathtub in the backyard in Korea inspires this design. Shin Myungia has cleverly repurposed everyday items to create a fun garden.
The bubbles have been engraved into the hard landscaping and the bathtub is represented in the garden furniture.
I really love the planting in this garden, which includes a beautiful cherry tree, synonymous with Eastern gardens.
The rest of the garden features clipped box and pyracantha hedges, red switch grass and beautiful soft hellebores. I think this is a beautiful design, and it won a Bronze medal from the RHS judges.
The Reimagined Past
Designed by Pam Creed
Overall, I think this is my favourite of the gardens at RHS Cardiff 2018. It champions the ideas of Victorian garden designer William Robinson. He rejected the elaborate planting schemes which were popular in the Victorian era, in favour of the ‘wild’ garden.
His designs only used sustainable perennials, and his ecologically sound principles are still relevant a century later.
Alongside the sustainable planting, this garden includes quirky features like walls built from reclaimed materials.
I love the use of the fireplace and sink in the design, and the reclaimed drain covers in the paving.
The offset inner area of this design represents the more formal style of Victorian garden design. And the softer, more flowing planting at the corners displays perennials that thrive in South Wales.
Urban Regeneration Garden
Designed by Millie Souter
The final garden in this round up provoked the most discussion between Mark and I!
We have very different preferences when it comes to garden design. And while Mark tends to prefer minimalist design in general, I love softer, less formal designs.
But we both agreed that the Urban Regeneration Design is very striking, and apparently so did the RHS Judges. Not only did they award this design a Gold Medal, it also won the Best Show Garden and Best Construction awards.
The designer has found imaginative ways to use inexpensive materials in this garden design. He actually found the water tanks that form the main feature in this design while out walking!
The hard landscaping has an industrial, almost Brutalist, appearance. Mark really liked this design, and while I generally prefer less hard landscaping, I do have a soft spot for Brutalist architecture.
Grasses and herbaceous planting soften the industrial hard landscaping and rain bonded gravel floor. And several tall mulberry trees add contrast to the vertical aspect of the garden.
This is a very well executed garden, so it’s quite easy to see how this design won both of the main awards.
The Floral Marquees of RHS Cardiff Flowershow 2018
Enjoy a beautiful show of colour as I pick out some of the highlights from the Floral Marquee at this year’s RHS Flower Show Cardiff.
This was my first visit to the Cardiff Flower Show. And once I’d looked around the Show Gardens, my next port of call was the Floral Marquee.
Most gardening shows that I have been to have a single Floral Marquee. But there were two marquees at RHS Cardiff, and I think that it helped to make the area feel less crowded.
There were certainly plenty of people milling around, looking at the displays and stocking up on plants and bulbs for their gardens.
As you might expect, there were beautiful displays of immaculate flower at every turn. I’ve picked out some of my favourite exhibits for you in this post.
Classically Welsh Displays
Of course, you couldn’t come to Cardiff in Springtime without mentioning daffodils, and the Scamps Daffodils stand had a vast array of the Welsh national flower on display.
It’s no surprise that this stand won a Gold medal from the RHS judges.
Scamps sell a wide range of modern and historical daffodils, but I really had no idea that daffodils come in some many different sizes and colours!
Mark and I were both quite taken by Little Flik, which is definitely the tiniest daffodil that I’ve ever seen.
There were some great offers running for orders placed at the show, and Mark is definitely planning to try growing this beautiful little flower.
The Pheasant Acre Plants stand also looked very springlike, with a wide range of seasonal blooms on display.
Their display of narcissus, tulips and more won a Silver-Gilt medal from the judges.
I really loved this Narcissus Reggae on their stand, I think the delicate colouring is quite unusual.
But if you needed a reminder of where this show was taking place, this impressive display of alpines was right at hand.
The bright hue of the Saxifraga Pixi Pan Red certainly caught the eye, and it definitely had people talking.
When you go to a lot of flower shows, you do start to recognise some of the sellers who attend regularly. So I was very happy to see Primrose Hall Nursery at the RHS Flower Show Cardiff.
They are always one of the stands that I love to see, because they produce such beautiful fragrant peonies.
This stand wasn’t quite as big and impressive as some they have done, like the massive birthday cake they produced for the 50th Anniversary of Gardener’s World. And unfortunately some of the flowers didn’t look at their best.
The judging criteria for RHS awards is very strict, so it didn’t really surprise me that they only won a Silver medal on this occasion. I’m sure they’ll be back on form later on in the year!
This gorgeous display of lilies from Cheshire-based Harts Nursery was also attracting a lot of interest.
Harts Nursery are another one of my favourite growers, and I’ve often bought bulbs from their stands at shows.
But the blooms looked pretty much immaculate to me, and I was surprised that this stand only won a Silver-Gilt medal. As I said before, the judges at a RHS Flower Show are very strict!
W & S Lockyer also won a Silver-Gilt award, for their colourful display of seasonal bulbs and perennials. I absolutely love their bright blousey amaryllis, and these tulips are just so colourful.
I particularly like the Tulip ‘New Santa’ with its frilly edges!
This pretty camellia was from the Strete Gate Camellias stand, and I absolutely love how delicate it looks.
It takes about three hours to drive from my home in Shropshire to Cardiff. But during my visit to the show, a familiar name caught my eye…
These Auriculas were on the Hillview Hardy Plants stand, who are based just down the road from me in Bridgnorth!
As with the peonies above, this display was smaller than some I’ve seen, such as their stand at Gardener’s World 2016.
They brought along a traditional Auricula theatre, but also displayed some of their plants in this more modern stand. They received a Silver-Gilt medal for their display.
Making an Impact
And if you want to get the most out of the flowers from your garden, RHS Cardiff covered this as well.
The Floristry Bench hosted a series of talks and demonstrations from top florists including Jonathan Moseley (pictured above). He had some fantastic tips on how to arrange flowers for the most impact.
But sometimes the flowers provide all the impact themselves…
Just look at these gorgeous colourful Dianthus ‘Bright Purple’ on the Calamazag Nursery stand.
I can’t believe how vivid that colour is – this flower certainly deserves its name!
Calamazag Plant Nursery first caught my eye at last year’s Gardeners’ World Live. And I love the playful way that they present their blooms to look like cupcakes.
They received a Silver-Gilt medal for this display, and I get the feeling that it’s only a matter of time before they reach Gold medal standard.
Another familiar sight next, from someone who definitely knows what it takes to win a Gold Medal.
Mendip Bonsai Studio consistently turn out a stunning display of the art of bonsai, and this was no exception.
This is a particular favourite of mine. This Chinese Juniper is beautifully presented, and I love the use of the Jin deadwood technique to mimic the effect of age on the tree.
Unsurprisingly, Mendip Bonsai won another RHS Gold medal for their stand at this show.
RHS Master Grower – Cardiff 2018
And finally, this beautiful display of Strepocarpus and other houseplants was on theDibleys Nurseries stand.
Dibleys Nurseries were also honoured as the RHS Master Grower for Cardiff 2018. This is an award which recognises one specialist nursery at each of five RHS shows. They receive special attention at the show, celebrating their ethical and sustainable business practices.
Dibleys Nurseries are a family-run business who specialise in streptocarpus, and who won their first RHS Gold medal in 1988. They are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their plants, and are responsible for breeding and introducing over 90 new Streptocarpus since 1979.
You can find out more about the RHS Flower Show Cardiff Master Grower award in this video.