China: Mother of Gardens. Tatton Park’s RHS Show Garden


As the RHS moves in to Tatton to prepare for this year’s Flower Show Tatton Park’s gardening team start work on their show garden.

This year the team look to pay homage to China’s botanical wealth and to the plant collectors who risked life and limb to bring its horticultural wonders to the West.

Inspired by the results of French missionaries’ attempts to collect plants before them, pioneers such as Ernest Henry “Chinese” Wilson, were commissioned by establishments including the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew in the early 20th century to embark on lengthy expeditions travelling extensively throughout China.

Virtually every garden in Britain enjoys the results of these endeavours as the vast majority are furnished with Chinese originating plants from the ubiquitous Buddleia Cotoneasters at home in many back gardens to the Handkerchief Trees (Davidia involucrata) and Magnolias of great gardens like Tatton. Over 1,000 varieties were identified by Wilson and his associates in the early 20th century during the heyday of plant collecting. 1910 saw Wilson’s last and most productive expedition having shattered his leg on an earlier trip in pursuit of the Royal Lily.

The garden team at Tatton has honoured the tremendous accomplishments of these 19th and 20th century explorers in the design of their show garden at this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. The garden takes the form of a traditional Chinese courtyard garden surrounded by a wild forest full of the most notable of the collector’s species. The courtyard represents China’s traditional love of horticulture intrinsically linked with its philosophy and religions, in contrast to the wild, rich history of its forested mountains only recently appreciated by the aforementioned Western horticulturalists.

The plants on show in the garden reflect those brought by Wilson and his contemporaries and include the Kiwi fruit (the Chinese gooseberry). Also included are examples of those that can be found in Tatton’s own 50 acre garden making it some of the most beautiful and visited in England. Plants include the Handkerchief Tree in Tatton’s formal gardens, and Acer Davidii, Snake Bark Maples, near the Leech pool.

Simon Tetlow, Tatton Park Head Gardener, said “The RHS show gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the great botanical gift China has given the world. Gardens would be very different places without this and Tatton’s is no expedtition. At every turn in our garden there is something beautiful from China and we wish to share this with our visitors to the show and to share with them the stories associated with their history and their journey to west.”

For further information about this release contact:  Vicky Wilby, Marketing Department Tel: 01625 374417 / Email: or

Tatton Park is managed and financed by Cheshire East Council on behalf of the National Trust. This impressive historic estate receives in the region of 800,000 visitors every year all of whom come to enjoy its Georgian mansion, Tudor Old Hall, award- winning gardens and 1930s rare breeds farm. The 1,000-acre deer park is home to red and fallow deer and the estate also boasts speciality shops, adventure playground, restaurant, Gardener’s Cottage tea room and a year-round events programme.

The Tatton Park Vision The `Tatton Park Vision’ is the park’s 5 year vision for its visitor activities and aims to substantially develop its visitor experience by increasing the attractions and activities on offer. In delivering the vision the aim is to fully realise Tatton Park’s potential and present the best possible experience for its current and new visitors in order to provide new and sustainable income to help manage and conserve the historic estate into the future. This will be done through a programme of investment by Cheshire East Council and the attraction of new business. For more information about the vision visit

About RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (22 – 26 July 2015):

  • 22 July - RHS members only 10am – 6.30pm
  • 23 – 25 July - RHS members and non-members 10am – 6:30pm
  • 24 July - Ladies’ Day
  • 26 July - RHS members and non-members 10am – 5pm (sell off starts at 4pm)

Tickets: 0844 338 7546 or Ticket prices range from £16.50 to £30. Children under 16 go free.

From 22 to 26 July the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Flower Show Tatton Park will return to Cheshire’s spectacular 1,000-acre deer park. Three zoned areas will unite to form this year’s show, Grow, Inspire and Feast, highlights of which include spectacular Show Gardens, exciting new competitors for the title of RHS Young Designer of the Year, and some amazing scientific creations to celebrate the United Nations’ (UN) International Year of Light.

Carnival spirit makes a very welcome return for the second year, bringing with it a Flowery Ferris Wheel, Colourful Carousel and vibrant Great Garden Carnival Parade.