National Flower Beds – RHS Tatton

Birmingham City Council - 'Birmingham's Iconic Mini'

Birmingham City Council - 'Birmingham's Iconic Mini'

One of the reasons I have wanted to go to RHS Tatton Park Flower Show for a number of years is a desire to see the municipal bedding displays.  Not that I am a huge fan of these sort of horticulture but I have a perverse curiosity to see them in real life.

Harlech WI - ' Spirit of Harlech'

Harlech WI - ' Spirit of Harlech'

I think this sort of planting is peculiar to the UK, but I’m happy to stand corrected.  For my overseas readers a quick explanation.  Municipal bedding stems from Victorian times when the councils and local authorities would create amazing displays from annual bedding plants.  This form of horticultural display is still practiced by local authorities and in large public gardens.

Cheshire East Council - 'Queens Park - The Story Continues'

Cheshire East Council - 'Queens Park - The Story Continues'

The displays generally reflect something about the area from which they come.  So Birmingham has created a display around the Mini car  which was produced in Birmingham until October 2000.  Though I do wonder about the sanity of the person who first came up with the idea of covering a car with bedding!  St Helier have celebrated the Jersey Royal Potato by creating a steep potato field along with farmer all out of bedding.  I quite liked Harlech’s steam train, though maybe some steam or smoke would have finished it off and gained a few more points.

Parish of St Helier - 'A Celebration of the Jersey Royal Potato'

Parish of St Helier - 'A Celebration of the Jersey Royal Potato'

I was really impressed at the work that must go into these displays.  There is the planning, working out how many plants will be required and growing them on. I think a lots of the bedding is planted in advance in trays so the roots mesh together. It must take a lot of dedication and I am sure the creators take a lot of pride in their work.

Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (one end)

Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (one end)


Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (the other end)

Bournemouth Borough Council - A Novel Approach (the other end)

The winner of Best Exhibit in the National Flower Bed Competition was the one from Bournemouth Borough Council (above).  The bed sets out to demonstrate the contrasting literature, art and architecture of Bournemouth’s Victorian era.  As you can see it was very well executed.

I can’t get excited about this sort of planting but I do admire the workmanship and skill that is involved in creating them.


11 Comments on “National Flower Beds – RHS Tatton

  1. Unfortunately I have not been able to get to any of the shows this year, although I had really wanted to go to Tatton.
    Thanks for the pics – no doubt our friends overseas will think us a strange country with our municipal bedding displays. They are great fun thoug and I love the mini!

  2. The mini seems a bit of a cheat as they have just covered a car with plants rather than constructing a car out of plants. I thought the Bournemouth one looked quite good until you showed the other end which does look suitably ‘hellish’.

  3. Hi Helen, not only the English are so mad. I was at the garden festival in Koblenz last month and a car covered in green was parked in the main shopping street to draw attention to the event.
    I have to admit that most of these displays are like the planting from hell to me, but it takes all sorts……as they say.

  4. And the German island of Mainau is (justly?) famous for this sort of planting.

    But if we look to France and see a parterre, is that so very different?

    Much prefer Piet Oudolf style drifts.

  5. I felt that I needed sunglasses when watching coverage of some of these gardens earlier on tonight on BBC2. Whilst I admire the work and the attention to detail that goes in to such creations I much prefer the municipal planting that you come across in France.

  6. Your last sentence sums up my feeling too. Admire the passion and the discipline. Can’t respond with any of my own excitement.

  7. We do get some displays of bedding plants in public places in the United States, but they’re more often stiffly formal than delightfully whimsical. I enjoyed these.

  8. I agree that this sort of display seems particular to the UK, and though I can’t help thinking them a bit cod I also have an appreciation of their weirdness. It’s garish, it’s brash, but it’s also kind of fun and cheerful, which is perhaps the reason why this sort of bedding has survived changing styles and tastes since the Victorian era.

    (Mind you, the UK does seem to still have much more of a tendency towards ornament and patterns than we do here in Scandinavia.)

  9. Really interesting – I’ve always categorised this as ‘floral clock’ gardening; OK, it’s fun but it does also make me want to scream and run away, I’m afraid…

    (I knew all about the Harlech display – there’s been a column in our local paper in the build-up to Tatton – but I’d no idea what it was going to look like. Glad you took a pic!)

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