RHS Urban Garden Show 2018
The RHS Urban Garden Show 2018 is a new garden show in the Royal Horticultural Society’s calendar. It’s one that I had I had been eagerly looking forward to attending.
This show did not disappoint and had an exciting buzz about it! Undoubtedly the main reason for this was that it firmly targeted city dwellers who invariably had small gardens. Or perhaps only had indoor gardens. This urban gardening audience has been overlooked by the garden industry but it is very much alive and growing!
The RHS Urban Garden Show 2018 was held in late October in central London. It was open from Friday evening through to late on Sunday. The halls [the show was held in the Lawrence and Lindley Halls in Vincent Square] were full of a very much younger generation of gardeners than normally seen at these events. I found this very exciting and encouraging for the future of gardening!
Set against a background of recent spectacular growth of indoor plants experienced by garden retailers, this show was very much ‘on trend’. It is therefore more than a little surprising that the RHS Urban Garden Show 2018 is the first and last! Due to low visitor numbers and to high costs the RHS has decided to move all but the RHS Spring Launch and Orchid Show (8-10 April 2019) to it’s regional gardens. Apparently, elements of the RHS Urban Garden Show 2018 are to be incorporated into these other shows. To me, this appears to be a big mistake if one considers the potential of this new young audience. For me, this is a show that should be held in every major city of the UK. Perhaps another organisation will see the potential and do just that!
Indoor or house plants are big news in the horticultural world at the moment! Naturally there were plenty on show and to buy at this show. I spoke to several exhibitors about demand and they were all very upbeat. Most were small to medium sized operations based in and around London but some were prepared to ship further.
All the usual favourite plants were on show and for sale but I spotted quite a few of the less common ones. Sadly most house plants are grown in Holland, Belgium and Denmark. However, I detected a resurgence of interest in offering UK grown stock whereever possible.
Novel ways of growing
Kokedama is a method of growing and displaying regular indoor plants but in a very novel way. Originally a Japanese technique I was told that this is popular down under in Australia. Plants are grown in balled clay and then that root ball is wrapped in hessian. The plants on offer in London had a coconut fibre wrap instead of hessian and looked very eye catching! Hand Spun Botanics were exhibiting kokedama. I’d like to try some of these in my new home.
Indoor aquatic plants are also in fashion. Writer and TV presenter James Wong has a fascinating Instagram thread [@botanygeek] that is worth following if you’re interested in giving this a go.
George Farmer conducted hands-on workshops to create bottle gardens. These were filled with suitable plants and the students were able to take home their own aquatic gardens later. His You Tube channel has great how to videos on this fascinating subject
U V Garden exhibit
Rob Stacewicz exhibit for the RHS pushed the boundaries and showed what can be done with ultraviolet light. I particularly enjoyed the spectacular display showing the impact of ultraviolet light. This demonstrated how different plants can look under UV.
Rob had found only one plant that glows in the same way that plankton can phosphoresce. This was a Selaginella.
All other plants in this dark room display had different coloured lamps shone at them and were often displayed in containers that glowed under this light source.
Ultraviolet happens to be the Pantone colour of 2018 so once more this was bang on trend!
The rise and rise of interest in succulent plants!
I was wowed with the Surreal Succulents exhibit at the Malvern Flower Festival this spring and so delighted to see them at this show! Succulent plants , along with cacti, have made a fantastic comeback! They are just such easy plants to care for but also such a diverse and interesting plant group too. I loved seeing some growing in the wild in South West Africa. I’ve written a little about them here.
At this show the guys from Cornwall had a beautiful demonstration of how easily these easy care plants can be grown in terraria.
New Garden Magazine
It takes a brave person to launch any kind of magazine these days and to get noticed it has to offer something different. Bloom magazine has recently been launched by editor and owner Zena Alkayat. This is a very high quality publication that will be read and re-read. It’s focus is mostly on urban gardening and I can see that this is such high quality that it will be stored as a future reference book and not recycled as soon as read.
RHS Urban Garden Show 2018 roundup
Cut flowers, dried flowers, edible plants, air plants, seeds and flower bulbs were all strongly featured at this show and a full programme of talks from experts ran alongside. The food offering was disappointing, unless that is you are a vegan. The gin cocktails stand had a constant long queue and was obviously a big hit with all!
I do hope that this show is repeated both in London and in other major cities.
Did you attend and if so did you feel inspired by it?