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Horticulture Week Magazine: Royal Horticultural Society Garden Shows 2021

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This article for London based Horticulture Week magazine, What are my hopes for flower shows this year? was published 29th January 2021.

Originally editor Matthew Appleby had asked for a quote in relation to garden shows and predominantly those of The Royal Horticultural Society of which at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show I had designed a show garden. I guess I didn’t feel that 40 – 50 words explained my feelings and the (hopeful) logic of them and so I wrote a little more. That, became this piece below.

There is a vast logical difference between my hopes and, what will actually happen.

Much like the current RHS Chelsea to be of now, in 2020 the Northern Roots show garden I designed, selected by The RHS for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was postponed from its original usual July date until September and then forwarded to this 2021. Whilst my wish was (as reported by Horticulture Week) in my heart and for the greater of the horticulture industry that my design would well be realised by now, the reality has been something entirely different.

Looking back, I don’t think anyone could have predicted almost a year after I spoke at The APL (Association of Professional Landcapers) annual awards ceremony there would still be restrictions at this level, let alone a second season of garden show cancellations. And without willing my childhood dreams away; bearing in mind horticulture and garden drawing is all I have ever done since I was five, of my third level education and for the last twenty years under my own name – shows and show gardens come down to those who either by financial or by gratuitous means, collaborate and ultimately hold hands with their gardens designer and a non existent daydream – and that, is where the logic now lies.

Ultimately, is that philanthropic business irrespective of the monetary value still, potentially one or two years post initial drawings submission, in a position to supply what they had agreed at a then very different time? And of more importance to some, can that garden also afford to be recreated at it’s intended permanent place of relocation.

“What is interesting is the minds that are engaging already towards sponsorships albeit a lesser level but of a positive still, with an eye to the future, a brighter time and a show garden for 2022. Though it may not be what I or anybody had banked on or hoped for, it is a little ray of insight to a brighter moment on the horizon.

“Assuming to the forefront is the safety and health of all involved in realising (amongst others) the largest and the greatest flower in the world, my hope (though it may well be one of a daydream filled eternally happy now tall child) is still exactly, as it was last September.”

Peter Donegan is an award-winning garden designer, founder of Peter Donegan Garden Design and garden designer for RTE television’s DIY SOS Ireland.

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