Brownfield Metamorphosis at Hampton Court Flower Show

We are all captivated by projects such as the High Line in New York  where  former industrial spaces are transformed into havens for wildlife.
Martyn Wilson’s garden at Hampton Court this year is all about nature taking over. Rubble and decay is replaced by trees and self-seeded plants amongst the rusting monolithic steel structures. 

“Inspiration came from places such as the High Line in New York and the Landschaft Park in Druisburg, Germany, and also the regeneration of the former MG Rover site in Longbridge, Birmingham.  The High Line is an example of a successful project, turning  a derelict brownfield site into a thriving contemporary space. The  public is invited into what was a forbidden and dangerous space.  

“For the Hampton Court garden, sculpted  steel and  concrete blocks form the structure. I wanted to soften the urban features by introducing grasses, ferns, perennials, self-seeded annuals and shrubs such as buddleja.” 


In amongst the silver birches – multi-stemmed Betula pendula are Buddleja davidii Wisteria Lane and white-stemmed Rubus cockburnianus. The perennial plant list features golden Achillea Walther Funcke, Terracota and softer yellow moonshine. 


Herbs thyme, fennel and origanum  mix in with verbena bonariensis, scabious, leucanthmums and umbellifers.  Grasses such as the quaking grass Briza media mingle with Deschampsia cespitosa and flexuosa and Festuca amethystina. 


Annuals featured in the garden are Dauca carota Dara, Californian poppies, eschscholzia Sun Shades and Red Chief, poppy Peshawar White and albiflora, and poppy rhoeas.


Wild flower orange Hawkweed, Pilosella aurantiaca- also known as fox and cubs- stands out against the crushed concrete scree and monolithic steel structures which were designed by Ledbury-based sculptor Simon Probyn.



Martyn Wilson’s garden shows a new approach to weaving our industrial heritage into new landscapes for the benefit of wildlife and people. He wants us to see the beauty in these spaces-  not just walk on by without a second thought. 

For me, I understood his “beauty in decay and regeneration,” theme. With some show gardens, the ideas behind them can be puzzling to say the least. But this one was obvious. A new approach which celebrates the relics of our past, to create flower-filled spaces for wildlife, insects and people. 




The garden, which was awarded a gold medal, was sponsored by St Modwen Properties PLC and raises awareness for UCARE  urology cancer charity  www.ucare-oxford.org.uk.

Simon Probyn http://www.simonprobyn.co.uk    sculptures

The Pot Company http://www.thepotcompany.com

Easymix http://www.easymixconcrete.com

Smiths of Bletchington http://www.smithsbletchington.co.uk

Louis Masai- London-based artist outdoor murals for the hoardings http://www.louismasai.com

hortus Loci plants http://www.hortusloci.co.uk

Cotswold gardening School http://www.cotswoldgardeningschool.co.uk

Keyscapes Ltd http://www.keyscapes-easigrass.co.uk

If you visited Hampton Court  this year, or watched the television coverage, which gardens caught your eye? Have any of you visited the High Line garden? It’s on my must-visit list. Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment. 

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14 thoughts on “Brownfield Metamorphosis at Hampton Court Flower Show

  1. I love this idea! Living in an already summer-dry climate, and anticipating even hotter, drier times to come, I’ve been thinking about gardening with tough, weedy yet attractive plants instead of those that need a lot of watering. And I’ve noticed how plants can form attractive communities in vacant lots, industrial areas, etc. Applying design and aesthetics in these situations can be done just as effectively as in “real” gardens, as shown by the photos in your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, Bridget. I know the lovely orange flowers from my childhood as fox and cubs. It’s a favourite of mine. Thanks for your kind comments. I really enjoyed the show and this garden was one that I kept going back to.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and getting in touch, Mike. I think it was better in real life than my camera phone photos show. The scent from the buddleja was really strong. I hadn’t realised they were scented before. The bees certainly love the garden too. I think it’s an interesting alternative view on what to do with these kind of spaces. Thanks again. Have a good week xx

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  2. Kathy magnificent pictures that illustrate the whole walk through the garden, taking the soul out of the garden. A beautiful garden that well deserves the first prize. I wish all the abandoned urban plots had a garden as beautiful as this one. Thank you very much. Greetings from Margarita.

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    • Thank you Cathy. It was one that I kept going back to at the show. It had a sort of magnetic attraction. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Mum sends her best wishes too. We had such a lovely day in your garden xx

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      • It is probably rare for a garden to completely resonate on all levels with us, which will be why those that do stand out in our memories. Thanks for your good wishes and those from your Mum too

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