And so it was that we arrived at West Molesey, having driven in packed traffic for the previous three hours. The hotel could wait until evening, as there was an adventure to be had. It was the first day of the Hampton Court Flower Show, open to RHS members only, and all would be fresh and 'brand new'.
We caught the boat that would take us across the river to the palace grounds, and there was excited chatter amongst our fellow garden enthusiasts.
A short way past the palace itself, and we moored up alongside the extensive grounds, eager to see what new and exciting innovations and design were on offer this year.
And the first show design didn't disappoint. A cooling style, with slowly running water, on a green theme. I thought it all worked very well, even the unusual seating.
Our first trade stand, where exotic garden parasols were on display. Of course we had to buy one. Can you tell which one?
A smaller garden design that caught my eye early on. I loved the woven little seating pod, and the choice of plants for the display was simply exquisite.
We turned on to one of the main thoroughfares, a long path flanked by gardens and stalls. It was encouraging in this day and age to see such enthusiasm in gardening.
Another nice garden, this time on a cool blue and white theme.
As the trees thinned at the other end of the thoroughfare, some sunnier style gardens came into view. I could see myself enjoying a morning coffee in the chair, perhaps closing my eyes just a little as I listened to the birdsong.
Our first of many business meetings of the day. Beautiful glass work at Carrie Anne Funnell Glass. There were some beautiful pieces for us to see, including a glass water wall and a three tired fountain. I particularly liked this tiered flower style.
The simple seat and pool of water in this garden could, I feel, go in just about any garden, and be personalised with any form of planting style.
My favourite garden of the entire show though must be this Turkish one. I loved the seating area, the way in which water was used, the blue tiling, the types of plants cleverly used to great effect.
The metal grid windows, coloured cushions.....well....everything.
The translucent white marble fountain was perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of garden stonework that I have ever seen. So simple and pure. So white that even clear water appeared to have a blue tinge.
It was lovely to see just about every lady at the show in their summer finery. Parasols abounded, as did summer hats.
Another well styled garden, this time on more of a tropical theme. Not really visible in the picture, it had multi levelled seating and planting.
By mid afternoon it had reached 35 degrees, and a lot of people were taking refuge in the shade of the ancient trees on the estate, including us. It was so hot that unfortunately some folk had succumbed to heat exhaustion. Even as professional gardeners, out in all weathers, it was too hot for us, and so a nap was called for after downing copious amounts of water.
The area used for the show flanked the long lake at one end of Hampton Court Palace. The fountains were in full flow, and as one sat in the shade of the marquees at either side, the air was nicely cooled by the water. I light lunch was had here, accompanied by rhubarb liqueur cocktails, as we sat by the waters edge.
One of the gardens represented by a charity was this one for World Vision. Although they wouldn't survive longer than a few days in their position, the use of orange Gerberas in sunken mirrored its amongst plain green work very well indeed. An idea that we may just utilise in some way in our own garden.
Another good business contact we made came about when we got chatting with Mark and Katie at MKM Creations. We liked the high gloss, precision made style of these pots and planters, and already have a few ideas of where a selection might go at work. They were a lovely couple to talk to, with an interesting story to how the company got started.
I must admit to not being a fan of modern bronze sculptures, whether humorous or more classic in design. I tend to lean more to the typical styles one would associate with large houses of old. As for bones here, sitting and relaxing in the sun, I expect someone will take him home.
In the garden below, it was the seating and walling that appealed mostly.
We both wanted to go into the flower tent, but knew it would be sweltering in there. We sort of circled outside for a while before heading in, and the heat was immediate. The plants on display however were extraordinary. Myriad types and colours enthralled as we went from stand to stand. We were looking for Hart Cannas in particular, as we wanted to establish a business contact for the future.
A small dahlia bloom display by one of the growers.
This was the Amnesty International garden. A subtle yellow theme, with bubbling red water. There were several messages in the way this had been put together and planted.
The end of the day came all too quickly, and as the sun started to go down on this magnificent show.....
......we headed to the Champagne tent for a chilled glass of Pimm's in the shade of some trees.
It had been a good day, and we left with our minds brimming with ideas and inspiration. No plants to take back to the hotel this time, although I think we were the only ones!