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Game Fair: Building the World’s Largest Show Garden at Hatfield House

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This year, the Game Fair is taking on a brand new project by attempting to build the world’s largest show garden. The ambitious project will offer three days of horticulture heaven at the historic Hatfield House, home to Lord and Lady Salisbury. Together with RHS Gold Medallist Julie Dowbiggen, students from Capel Manor College will be showcasing an exciting new area for The Game Fair. This year’s annual fair will see the world’s largest ever show garden at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire.

Game Fair 2019

An Ambitious Project

Game Fair Gardens 1

Sponsored by Charles Stanley and created by Capel Manor College, the garden will be part of the show, appealing to a new audience. Capel Manor College is the only land-based skills college in central London and offers a range of courses for students in their 6 study centres across Crystal Palace, Enfield, Gunnersbury Park and Regents Park. The students of the college and RHS Gold Medallists have been tasked with the design and build of the show garden.

The Game Fair Gardens will create an immersive and interactive experience, telling the story of the countryside, estates, country gardens, traditional practices and innovations through a number of themed gardens. Visitors can expect kitchen gardens, traditional crafts, art, sculpture and superb design at Hatfield House, which already has an international reputation among gardening enthusiasts.

Game Fair Gardens 3

The show garden will be over 1 acre in size and will be built from scratch in just 90 days, by the students and staff from Capel Manor College. The build began in May, with the area plotted and the foundations laid by the students from the college. The garden will have 5,000 plants and trees, 400 roses, 500 m2 of turf. A stage at the centre of The Game Fair Gardens will also host Q&A’s, demos and debates. Many of the plants will be donated as a lasting legacy from the Garden to charities, schools and hospices to celebrate the fantastic work over the 3-day festival.

The design, in keeping with the Game Fair’s ethos of celebrating the countyside, gives pride of place to many British varieties of trees and plants. The UK landscape is evoked by more than 20m of dry-stone wall, while the arts of saddlery and leatherwork – crafts dear to the rural community – are celebrated by the use of plants used in the tanning process, as well as demonstrations throughout the weekend

Game Fair Gardens 2

The students who have taken on the ambitious challenge include Andrew Smith, Plants and Planting Design Advanced Certificate (Level 3) who has designed the Herbaceous Border, along with Cristina Garcia-Mora, Plants and Planting Design Advanced Certificate (Level 3), who has designed the Prarie Planting section. Foundation Degree in Garden Design and Plantsmanship student, Katharine Goddard, designed the Estate Planting section as well as the College’s Horticulture apprentices have supported the development of The Potager Garden.

In addition, many other members of Capel Manor College are contributing to the project. “Our apprentices are growing lots of the veg and flowers for the garden and they are learning a lot on how to look after the latter – feeding, spraying and keeping an eye out for any pest and disease,” said Julie Dowbiggin, Capel Manor’s Garden Manager, adding that the project also gives apprentices the chance to learn garden design skills and the logistics of building a garden on such a grand scale.

Game Fair Gardens 4

Lady Salisbury, who is Patron of Capel Manor College and a keen gardener herself, has been taking an active role too. “She’s been involved from the very beginning,” says Dowbiggin. “She has made several visits to the site and takes the time to talk to all the students who are up there. She is very positive and excited by the garden and is really looking forward to the finished project.”

Lady Salisbury, of Hatfield House and Patron of Capel Manor College, said: “It is wonderful that this year The Game Fair is encouraging our apprentices and students to use their skills and knowledge to create a spectacular garden at Hatfield. As patron of the college, specialising in land-based subjects across London, I know this RHS award-winning team will provide inspiration to gardeners and will show with a good design, what can be grown. Seeing what people can do is always a pleasure as well as providing a vital contribution to our green open spaces.”

A Summer of Gardens

Entrance to the Game Fair Gardens is included with the standard Game Fair entry ticket and VIP packages. The Game Fair have also teamed up with partners Capel Manor College and Hatfield House to offer an unrivalled opportunity to visit some of the grandest gardens in the country on one ticket and you have an entire season to take advantage of it.

The Gardens Experience ticket not only includes entrance to The Game Fair, entrance to the award-winning gardens at Capel Manor College and entrance to the stunning gardens, park and woodland walks at Hatfield House. With the Game Fair as your first stop, the other gardens can be visited at leisure right up until late September.

Where to buy tickets

To purchase your Game Fair Gardens Experience ticket, please visit thegamefair.seetickets and quote GARDENTICKET in the code box. The Game Fair is also offering discounts on tickets for RHS members, which can be appliedsimply by using the code RHS2019. 


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