RHS Tatton Show 2023

I can’t believe it’s been over a week since I went to the RHS Tatton Show but time is hurtling past and here we are!

**I need to let you know that at the bottom of this page are photos of a very large caterpillar and a moth, just in case you don’t like to see them.**

For those of you who don’t live in the UK, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is the UK’s leading gardening charity, inspiring and encouraging people to grow plants of all kinds either in their own spaces or in communities.  They have five gardens of their own which anyone can visit (although there is an entrance fee if you’re not a member) and I’ve written about two of them which I’ve visited – RHS Harlow Carr in Yorkshire with my friend Lucy of Attic24 and more regularly, RHS Bridgewater which is near to Manchester and much more local to me.

The RHS also hold 7 flower shows during the year, the most famous of which is the Chelsea Flower Show, and the closest to me is at Tatton Park, and that’s the one I’ve been to most often.  It consists of show gardens of various sizes; beautiful gardens that look like they have always been in the spaces allocated in the showground but which have been built specially for the 5 days of the shows, and they’re created by garden designers working with plant nurseries and sometimes sponsored by companies or charities.  They’re always something to see and definitely an inspiration for any gardener!

Here are a few of this year’s show gardens:

A family garden space bordered by a green tiled wall and dark brown fence. The planting is around the edges of the garden, a children's sand box is against one wall and a blue metal table and chairs closest to the camera at RHS Tatton Show 2023A weathered wood trellis on a patio providing cover and shade for a table laid for dinner. The planted border runs alongside the patio. RHS Tatton Show 2023A willow dome stands at the end of a short gravel path, surrounded by plants chosen to attractor bees and other pollinators at RHS Tatton Show 2023

Alongside the stand-alone gardens, there are many exhibitors there offering plants for sale, garden furniture, garden architecture (oh, I was so tempted by the driftwood horse sculpture until I saw the £3,000 price tag!), ornaments, equipment – it’s really quite hard not to get carried away and want to buy it all!

Most of the plant exhibitors have small gardens next to their stands to show how the plants they are selling will work together in a garden setting …

A circular display of green leaved hosta plants at RHS Tatton Show 2023 A brightly coloured display of perennial plants at RHS Tatton Show 2023A display of purple allium plants with tall flower heads at RHS Tatton Show 2023Small pots of red and green succulent plants in a black display traySmall pots of red and green succulent plants in a black display tray

I couldn’t resist those last two photos – I’m a bit of a sucker for houseleek (Sempervivum) plants and there were some wonderful displays of them.  I managed to resist buying alll the plants, but I did come home with a Dierama or Angel’s fishing rod plant to replace the one that I had that died over the winter a few years ago.

I spent a happy few hours just wandering around and having a good look at everything – and taking LOTS of photos!  A germ of an idea was brewing in my mind and I wanted to be sure that I had all the garden inspiration I thought I might need to make it happen.

At last, I’d seen all that I wanted to see and it was time to join the queue of cars to get out of Tatton Park.  Tatton is famous for its herd of red deer and I’d been surprised that I hadn’t seen them when I drove into the park – and this is why!  They were all congregating at the exit!  Don’t worry, my car was stationary when I took this photo as I was waiting my turn to move forward, and no cars had moved as there was a bit of an altercation between deer and nobody wanted to get their car in the way!

A group of red deer standing under a tree. The photo is taken from a car window.

I couldn’t believe it when this one walked right in front of my car – I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a red deer!

A large red deer walks across a road between stationary cars. The photo is taken from a car window.

And then, the deer got even closer!  Well, that absolutely made my day!

A group of red deer on a grassy area next to a road. The photo is taken from a car window.

Back home, I didn’t have much time to think about my garden idea as my cousin and her family arrived from Canada and then not so small daughter was on the plane to Japan – thank you so much for all your good wishes, she was so pleased to know that you were thinking about her.  I’ll write more about her trip soon and I’ll see if I can get her to write a post for me when she gets home too, as I expect she’ll have plenty to say!

After a few days where I didn’t do very much at all other than rest, I was ready to get out into my own garden.  I’m tired of looking out of my kitchen window on my veg boxes which haven’t grown much other than poppies and evening primrose for a couple of years.

Overgrown wooden raised beds in a garden.

I’m tired of feeling guilty that I’ve missed the window for sowing seeds or planting something or harvesting something else, and now that the raised beds have reached the point of needing mending or replacing, I’ve decided to turn the whole space into a flower border with some veg growing in there as well, instead of a veg garden that’s a complete mess with flowers growing where they’re not really supposed to.

It’s been quite an emotional decision as my veg garden is very much connected with my thoughts and memories of my Dad and I did worry that I would be letting him down in some way, but I think he would be happier that I grew what makes me happy and didn’t try to battle on with something that doesn’t work for us at the moment.  I can always go back to growing veg later if I want to.

We watched a film a short while ago with Julie Roberts and George Clooney in it and one of the themes was “why save the good stuff till later?”, and I’ve felt very much like that with the veg garden of late.  For me right now, the flowers are “the good stuff” and I don’t want to wait any longer to grow them.

I made a start yesterday and I’ve cleared the plants and weeds out that I don’t want any more, and that feels really good.

Cleared wooden raised beds in a garden.

I found this elephant hawk moth caterpillar working its way along the edge of one of the veg boxes – it really is huge, it made me jump!

A very large brown caterpillar with "eyes" along its back to discourage predators

I had to look it up, I’ve never seen on of these before and the moth that it grows into is beautiful – I’m hoping that more of these will want to live in my new flower garden!

A large brown and pink moth


I’m still going to grow some veg in this garden – I’ve got plants for climbing frames for peas and beans, and I expect that I’ll be digging up potatoes for some time to come as they seem to be pretty good at growing from the tiny seed potatoes that I miss when I dig the plants up!  We’ve got one last dinner’s worth, and my Dad would certainly be pleased with that.

A terracotta-coloured plant pot full of small new potatoes. The pot is standing on grass.



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30 Responses

  1. Audrey says:

    The red deer are beautiful creatures .So elegant. You are going to enjoy your veg when they are in abundance .I was thinking about using some of my big plant pots to grow some too .Love reading your posts every week .

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes, I think I’ll be much happier about the veg when I can grow them differently – the current mess is not filling me with joy! 🙂 You’re right, the deer are beautiful, I felt very privileged to be so close! 🙂 xx

  2. Jacqueline says:

    Great post

  3. Ruth Howard says:

    Hello again Christine- doesn’t a week soon pass when you are so busy? Enjoyed your visit to Tatton Park – lots of ideas – haven’t visited but went to Chelsea one year !!! – an experience and often visited Wisley as our daughter doesn’t live too far away – lots of ideas from there too although they have stopped doing there small garden layouts which I really liked.
    We have a courtyard garden – I will try to send You a photo on Instagram and not much garden but we do have pretty pots this year and some tomatoes 🍅- getting older I am afraid!
    Pleased youngest daughter is enjoying her experience in Japan – what a wonderful opportunity- enjoy the potatoes 🥔 they look very good – we grew them one year in pots but not this year !!
    Thanks for the updates
    Ruth x

    • winwickmum says:

      I went to Chelsea with a friend one year too – it was super-busy and I think I prefer the more open space at Tatton, but I wouldn’t rule out going again just for the experience! I’m glad you get to Wisley from time to time 🙂 xx

  4. Tineke says:

    I have both the moth and caterpillar in my garden, and I adore them. The firework the moth gives in the evening. They are fond of my Hemerocallis. Sometimes life comes in the way. I had a huge renovation done. My complete roof is removed, newly insulated, and filled with solar panels. Floor insulated. So all that moving around, emptying, and filling made my glass house empty. No food grown by myself this year. There is always next year. And who doesn’t want more flowers, eh?

    • winwickmum says:

      I’ve got hemerocallis in the front garden but I’ve never seen the moth there – to be honest, I’ve never looked for them and the borders are full so I wouldn’t see the caterpillars. I might have to move some hemerocallis into my new border if the moths like them! 🙂 xx

  5. Christine Knowler says:

    Glad youngest daughter arrived in Japan safely and is enjoying the experience. Love walking around different gardens and getting ideas for new plants. I want more alliums in my garden. I have some in a pot but I think I will transfer them into the bigger flower bed. We have no vegetables this year as we will have building work done on the house later this month and hubby won’t have time to tend to them. But we have potatoes from last years crop reappearing. I love any wildlife but they can take you by surprise at times. At my last house it was frogs leaping out as I mowed the grass or weeded the borders. Sadly no frogs here even with the wildlife pond.

    • winwickmum says:

      Hopefully the frogs will arrive sometime – nature has a way of finding places intended for them so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! I’ve just ordered a big bag of allium bulbs so I’ll have to make sure I get them planted in plenty of time! 🙂 xx

  6. Chris says:

    What a busy, and exciting time you’ve been having! I love house leeks too. I’ve a real passion for hostas and heucheras as well, so trips to our local garden centre (for coffee & cake) can be really challenging! The caterpillar and moth are exquisite! I love August for all the moths that are about. A quiet evening in the garden is a delight, watching them. I find them as fascinating as butterflies in their own way, and none of them do us any harm. The red deer was magnificent – that’s certainly a sighting that you won’t forget in a hurry. Sadly, I’m currently planning my husband’s funeral, but your lovely post has gone a long way to lift my spirits. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your family with us – your posts are a real joy!

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your brother and I’m sending you all my love. I do hope everything goes as well as it possibly can when the day comes. The hosta display was beautiful – not a snail hole in sight in all of the leaves 🙂 xx

  7. Madeleine says:

    We went to the RHS Hampton Court flower show this year, have been frequently, this year was a disappointment, not many show gardens, muddled layout, the catalogue/guide was £10.00, many of the products on sale were nothing to do with horticulture or gardening.

    However, met Sara Ward, her blog is hencorner.com, her urban small holding is in the next borough, I bought her book, Living the Good Life in the City, on perusal was pleased we already make jams, marmalade and garden as suggested.

    • winwickmum says:

      I thought the Tatton Show was smaller than it had been and there seemed to be less show gardens, but then I wasn’t sure if it was because the layout had changed. I also thought that one of the big flower society marquees was missing as I’m sure there used to be sweet pea society competitions, chrysanthemums etc, but then I thought it was so long that I’d been that maybe I’d forgotten what it was like. I’m glad you had a good meet up with Sara Ward 🙂 xx

  8. Julie Culshaw says:

    I saw someone’s garden where she had planted tomatoes and lettuce in amongst her flowers. Not noticeable until you got close, but they were all doing fine.

  9. Caroline Darrah-Morgan says:

    You could still grow some veg in your flower borders – my rows of mixed lettuces look as pretty as any of my flowers, though they are in my veg patch, and I’ve actually planted some spare rhubard chard in a flower bed, where it doesn’t look at all out of place. I might add some yellow ones too! And a wigwam of climbing beans…

    • winwickmum says:

      It’s my intention to do that – and you’re right, the lettuce do look very pretty, there was a border of them at RHS Bridgewater last time I went and they looked fabulous! Peas and beans for me, and they’d look great climbing up wigwams! 🙂 xx

  10. Susan Rayner says:

    So lovely to see the Tatton Park Show although I am incredibly lucky to live within 3 miles of RHS Wisley and about 6 miles from Hampton Court – I do wish the BBC would also show the other shows. We visited Tatton Park some years ago just before the Show and loved the park. Your photos of the Deer are wonderful.
    As are your plans for the garden – we used to grow vegetables – but there are only two of us and so much was not used the way it should have been – despite giving lots away and freezing what I could. Our garden is much simplified now (more shrubs and lots of perenniels) and we enjoy it all the more.
    I hope not so small daughter does share her adventures with us – it sounds amazing what they do these days.
    Have a good week.

    • winwickmum says:

      I always forget that the flower shows are on TV but you’re right, I’m only aware of the Chelsea and Tatton ones. It would be nice if they showed the others too. Now that I’ve got my head around it, I’m looking forward to flowers where my veg was! 🙂 xx

  11. Connie says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. I reside in Missouri, in the Midwest of the US. I have a 4 th floor apartment with a small patio. I didn’t plant my flowers this year, as life got in the way. My grandmother had a large vegetable garden and an equally large flower garden. I believe she could grow anything she planted. So many happy memories. Thank you for taking the time to give us a peek into your life.

    • winwickmum says:

      I think the best thing about gardening is that however life gets in the way, there’s always another year and another season. I hope you get your flowers next year! 🙂 xx

  12. Helen says:

    My garden is an overgrown wilderness. I lost the use of my arm for a year and now with the rain on top of the mess, it’s hard to know where to start! It doesn’t help that it’s full of spiders!

    • winwickmum says:

      That sounds like it was a very difficult year and I’m glad that you have movement back now. You’re quite right, it is spider season – our house is usually full of them but luckily, it turns out that our now-indoor cat Astrid loves them so she’s keeping the numbers down 🙂 xx

  13. Julie Axtell says:

    The picture of the elephant hawk moth triggered a yarny memory (of course). I remember seeing a similar picture of an adult moth as an inspiration for an indie dyed yarn – I think it was Mothy and the Squid but I could be wrong about that.

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes, I think you’ll be right – Mothy and the Squid was all about the wildlife colours so I am pretty certain that moth would feature! I’ve got a skein of calico cat from Mothy and the Squid in my stash; I’ll probably never knit it as it looks just like both of my calico cats in the skein but it’s never the same knitted up 🙂 xx

  14. Angela says:

    It’s lovely to see you giving a shout out for Tatton Park. We have recently moved to Knutsford and I am still amazed at the sight of deer in the park when I am out walking.

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, you’re living in a lovely part of the world! Have you found the Courtyard cafe yet? That’s a favourite haunt when I go to Knutsford to meet up with a friend – we love it there! 🙂 xx

      • Angela says:

        No, we haven’t been here long enough for me to have done the rounds of all the cafes in the town. I will push this one up my to-visit list!

        • winwickmum says:

          I hope you’ll like it! The lady who owns it is lovely, and there’s a really good gluten-free menu which is the reason we visit as my friend has an intolerance and it’s not always easy to find places that cater well for that xx

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