AA Chairman at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

Author:  Jago Keen
Last Updated:  07/07/2016

The 4th and 5th July saw Jago Keen, AA Chairman, attend the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Nestling amongst the magnificent avenues of limes, radiating from the palace sun, were a superb collection of show gardens and, of course, the Floral Marquee.

On the first day Jago was a guest at the Health and Horticulture conference. A series of experts in healthcare, science and practice informed us of the need for health through horticulture, the growing body of evidence that demonstrates horticulture’s effectiveness and that it matters to those with challenges to their health – one of the most emotive presentations was from Keith Oliver, a sufferer of dementia and a most eloquent Dementia Envoy for the Kent & Medway NHS Partnership Trust.

Whilst the consensus that green equalled health was strong it was clear that there were gaps in knowledge – the active ingredients of green that lead to the benefits and how is that humans translate those benefits to better health. Interestingly the subject of fractals emerged. Fractals being the repeating patterns at carrying scales that we see in nature – think river system, nerve pathways in the brain, our blood distribution system, our network of oxygen absorbing tubes in the lung and then think how similar they are to the pattern of branching in trees – trees are optimised for flow architecture to ensure efficiencies of energy. Does that view of that same pattern of flow architecture in trees’ energy system have some bearing on our own, very similar, pattern of flow architecture in our energy system? Any volunteers for scientific research?

The second day saw Jago accompanying the parliamentary visit to the Show. Amongst the many parliamentarians was DEFRA Minister, George Eustice who managed to spare some time in a busy, and varied, political schedule to learn more of the benefits to health from horticulture. Most noticeable about the show gardens was the quality of semi-mature trees that had been incorporated in to the design. From naturalistic forms of varied species in the "All the World's a Stage" garden, informed by analogies in Shakespeare's works, to the superb multi-stemmed specimens of birch and silver maple in the stylish Dogs’ Trust water garden. Of course, trees are an essential component of any dog-friendly garden!

The RHS are making good progress advancing the knowledge of the public and decision makers in the benefits of green infrastructure, of which 50% in urban areas is in private gardens. As an Association we are pleased to be able to provide or knowledge of arboriculture to support that advance.


Main image: Naturalistic glade planting in "All the World's a Stage" where visitors are encouraged to enter and immerse themselves in Shakespearean analogies

Secondary image: This dog was seen heading for the tree, via the water splash, in the Dogs' Trust garden