Friday 10 July 2015

A Growing Obsession Hampton Court – the Yardley London Perennial Garden

This year at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, I had the opportunity to visit the A Growing Obsession – the Yardley London Perennial Garden. I also volunteered to help at the garden for Perennial, UK’s only charity dedicated to helping all people who work in horticulture, and their families, when times get tough.

The focus of the A Growing Obsession garden is on women’s influence in gardening since the Victorian era and brings together a partnership between quintessentially English floral fragrance house Yardley London and long-standing charity for horticulturists Perennial, both of which have roots firmly planted in British floral heritage.

Designed by Jean Wardrop and Alexandra Stevenson, the garden is inspired by the Victorian ladies’ flower garden, representing a time when gardening as a pastime began to cross gender divides.

A view of the garden from the back
The garden reflects the ornate grandeur of the Victorian age, with the formal, geometric shapes of the bedding, York stone pathways for promenading and a terrace with balustrade framing the view. It features a decorative glasshouse (supplied by Griffin Glasshouses) for exotics, which gained great popularity during Victorian times and ferneries set amid Pulhamite rockeries reflect another fashion of the 19th century.

Photo courtesy: Cambridge University
The idea for the garden came when Jean and Alexandra came across a book published in 1840 entitled 'Instructions in Gardening for Ladies' by Jane Loudon, whose writings helped make gardening more accessible to women and all classes. The British obsession with gardening goes back to this era, marking the transformation of gardening from being male dominated activity, to something that everyone could enjoy.

Designer Jean Wardrop comments: “The Victorian influences on gardening are fascinating, particularly in relation to women in gardening, and we hope to have captured some of that in our show garden. We have carefully selected plants and materials inspired by 19th century discoveries and practices, so visitors will get a true flavour of the legacy the Victorians left us.”

Photo courtesy: Jonathan Ward, Ginger Horticulture

Anita Bates, Director of Marketing and Development at Perennial comments: “This garden helps highlight our heritage as a charity that grew from Britain’s great gardens to look after the people who tended them. The Victorians created some of the greatest gardens in our history, as well as instilling in us the love of gardening we still hold dear in the UK today.

Nowadays, even though some sectors of the horticulture industry are traditionally male dominated, in other areas such as garden design, there are huge numbers of extremely talented women. We want to celebrate their achievements and remind everyone in our industry we are here to help if ever they have nowhere else to turn.”

For further information about Perennial and to find out more about how it helps horticulturists visit

For further information about Yardley London and its range of floral fragrances and ancillary body products, visit

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