RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the show for real gardeners and growers. i-D’s Gardener-in-Residence Scarlett Cannon reports…
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“Food, glorious food”. One of my favourite subjects, especially food that we produce ourselves, and there were plenty of ideas to interest and inspire at the Hampton Court Flower Show, as well as an entire marquee dedicated to fine artisanal foods.
Food growing is my specialist subject. I’ve been at it for more than 20 years so naturally this part of the show interested me most, not to mention that some of my favourite companies and organisations were there. What a pleasure to put a face to a name when meeting Paolo from Franchi, my all-time favourite veg seed supplier. These seeds originate from Northern Italy where the climate is much the same as the UK as their alpine house and vegetable garden demonstrated. And it’s always nice to see the good folk from The Garlic Farm, based on the beautiful Isle of Wight where the soil is amazing, who had plenty of garlic varieties for home growing. Their stand smelled pretty great too! Brogdale is the home of the National Fruit Collection. The single largest collection of fruit in the world, it includes over 3500 named apple, pear, plum, cherry, bush fruit, vine and cob nut cultivars. They had some clever ideas for fruit growing in small areas including step-over apple trees which can be used to good effect marking a border or edge, much the same as a low fence but with the added bonus of fruit. There were plenty of edible displays and ideas for incorporating fruit, veg and herbs in a small garden, both in the marquee and in the show gardens. This is very encouraging to see, as in my opinion food growing is an extremely self-empowering form of gardening. It’s refreshing to see food growing so well featured at a flower show.
Entering the Great Taste & Artisan Food marquee my eyes took in cheeses and oils and dressings and baked goods and chocolates; all my favourite things to eat! Most impressive for me were the melt-in-the-mouth cookies and cakes at Scarlet Rosita Foods, a husband and wife team creating magic in their kitchen at home. Very nice people, a family company, a real cottage industry and fairly new, they are not yet online but you can buy their beautiful baked goods at Tanner Street Market in Bermondsey, in the Maltby Street food area on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s worth the trip for the goji berry, roasted walnut and ginger cookies were out of this world, as were the almond financier. I also very much enjoyed tasting the cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oils and dressings at Fussels, so much so that I couldn’t leave without purchasing a bottle of Peppered Watercress Dressing. Then I hung out for a while at The Cheshire Cheese Company, nibbling on very good cheeses with fabulous names like Old Hag and Sticky Toffee Heaven – truly scrumptious.
It’s uplifting to see that bee-friendly gardening is becoming more prominent and popular. Who doesn’t enjoy delicious so-good-for-you honey? The bees are in crisis and we need to look after them by planting varieties and species that will provide them with plenty of food and shelter. Finally, for those who like eggs and have the space and inclination to look after chickens there were some beautiful hen houses fit for a queen. A hen queen of course!
Text and Photography: Scarlett Cannon
Images from left: Strawberry wall, cabbages and kale at Work, Rest & Play; Urban Oasis community allotment; Henhouse and Yellow Pekin hens at Flyte so Fancy; Step-over Apple tree at Brogdale; Alpine veg garden at Franchi Seeds of Italy; Edible leaves at Dobies; Isle of Wight Garlic Farm; Delicious treats at Scarlet Rosita Foods; Fussels dressings and fine oils; Herbs and flowering edibles at Hooksgreen Herbs; Bee friendly at Pennard Plants.