By Rashmita Solanki
The Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, set in the grounds of the historic palace, runs from July 1-7. Visitors can see the newest innovations in gardening and pick up conservation and foraging tips.
In a first, visitors can discover the delights of foraging with the Wild Garden, designed by Rosana Porta. Expert forager Kerry Bowness will help visitors distinguish wild edibles such as wild garlic, sorrel and flowering nettles.
A Wild Garden Banquet tops off this foraging experience (booking is essential) and includes a bespoke five-course meal put together by the UK’s youngest chef to be accredited with a Michelin Star, Merlin Labron-Johnson.
Growing your own herbs and vegetables is also being championed this year, in association with the new RHS Community Allotments. Three local groups will design their own allotment-style gardens with herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers. These will be judged by Raymond Blanc who is an avid grow-your-own connoisseur.
Other celebrity chefs and TV presenters will also be present at the festival, highlighting cooking with ingredients from the garden, healthy eating and using herbs for health.
Among those attending will be James Wong, RHS ambassador and TV presenter; Gregg Wallace, BBC One’s MasterChef presenter, as well as Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, best-selling authors, TV presenters and chefs.
One highlight will be a garden designed by the Duchess of Cambridge in conjunction with Landscape architects Davies White. Her first garden collaboration was at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, also with Andree Davies and Adam White. That garden’s main feature was to create a woodland setting, to be enjoyed by all generations – called ‘The Back to Nature Garden’. It will be interesting to see what the duchess will feature at Hampton Court Palace.
Rose lovers will enjoy the Festival of Roses featuring roses from growers such as the late David Austen, Peter Beales and Harkness, among others. Visitors can also enjoy afternoon tea in the rose garden.
Gardeners can shop for plants and gardening gadgets in the Plant Village and also check out the Floral Marquee.