Dazzling with colourful interest in the brilliant sunshine, this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will prove to be a tremendous attraction for everyone as it caters for both keen gardeners and families who just what a day out in magnificent surroundings.
When entering from the Thames Gate after a lovely walk along the river, the first display to catch many people's eye will be the feature garden commemorating the Great War. Complete with genuine relics, trenches and sandbags, Battlefields To Butterflies pays tribute to the Royal Parks and Palace Gardens men who lost their lives in the conflict, with 24 ceramic poppies placed among the wild flowers.
Adjacent to the battlefield is the Celebrity Theatre where recognizable names such as Chris Beardshaw, Joe Swift and Pippa Greenwood dispense their knowledge along with Julia Bradbury, and Bill Oddie talking about his 'ludicrous garden'.
Next on your list of things to do should be the Evolve Dome, a giant time capsule that takes you back 3.5 billion years, telling the story of how organisms evolved and adapted, moving from the sea to land to become present day plants and trees. Nearby there are also fossil and sow and grow workshops.
Families with children may find it difficult to ignore the copious refreshment stalls on the Village Green with its bandstand, and stalls offering food and drink ranging from Vietnamese street fare to Mr Whippy ice cream, fish and chips to healthy vegan goodness.
Gardening enthusiasts will have already discovered the Piet Oudolf border full of perennials and grasses and found their way to the first of the garden displays, an impressive vista of show gardens on one side and stalls literally selling every garden ornament under the sun on the opposite side.
There's a huge variety of gardens including The Entertaining Garden, a celebration of gin with the juniper plant taking centre stage, The Family Garden designed for the environmentally aware with an entire wall of insect houses, and Brilliance In Bloom with its sculpture, metalwork and mosaic. Each has a story to tell both in terms of their design, construction and inspiration.
You'll then reach the Dig It restaurant, Foraging Workshop and Cookery Theatre, here as you might guess the emphasis is on growing and eating. There's also the RHS Grow Your Own garden created with the Raymond Blanc Cookery School which is designed to encourage everyone to get growing no matter the size of their outdoor space.
That well know greengrocer and masterchef Gregg Wallace will be appearing in the Dig It Live theatre as well as Frances Tophill from Gardeners' World, talking about her allotment and many other personalities at various times each day.
The show gardens continue to impress, and you may find yourself spoilt for choice as there is so much to look at and enjoy. There really are too many to mention, thirty in total, with displays from leading UK designers as well as many other countries, some conceptual, others focussing on particular themes.
I have no idea whether he was a supporter of the beautiful game but Anton Chekhov loved gardening and a replica of part of his tranquil estate near Moscow, based on an original photograph, is particularly apt with the World Cup taking place.
Further on you'll find an artist using red wine to paint the Santa Rita Living La Vida Garden, Countryfile's 30th Anniversary Garden, a Nordic Lifestyle Garden complete with real Vikings (or are they actors?), and one of the Gardens For A Changing World, Conscious Consumerism, that exposes the reality of the South American meat industry and its devastating environmental results.
Festival Of Roses
Away from the gardens and into the shade of a marquee, every year I find the promise of wonderful colour and sweet scent emanating from the Festival of Roses irresistible. Fabulous displays of these gorgeous blooms will send your senses into overdrive, and there is also a Roses and Floristry Theatre with live talks to satisfy your fully justified curiosity.
Equally unmissable is the Floral Marquee, very probably my favourite destination, the 'Place To Buy Plants' is a huge space that contains every plant you have ever wanted and many more that may not have crossed your mind. The displays are wonderful, some quirky such as the Fun Of The Fuchsia roundabout, others just jaw dropping in their beauty.
Contained within the marquee is the Potting Bench where experts offer advice and Q&A, there's also a Plant Creche where your purchases can be looked after and collected at the end of the day.
If there is any time left, there are Community Gardens to look at, a Scarecrow competition for the children, the Plant Village, and stalls selling everything you need to create the perfect garden. And I haven't got round to mentioning the Kinetic Arboretum or the River of Flowers that sweeps along the Long Water, which is possibly the best picnic spot in London.
The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from 2nd - 8th July 2018, tickets and further information can be obtained from their website.