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Kids mix with stars at Hampton Court flower Show preview

Newsreader Kate Silverton in a ring of 80 pairs of artificial tusks, symbolising the scale of the slaughter of African elephants killed by poachers, at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
Newsreader Kate Silverton in a ring of 80 pairs of artificial tusks, symbolising the scale of the slaughter of African elephants killed by poachers, at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
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SCHOOLCHILDREN mixed with celebrities yesterday as a tropical butterfly dome and a 70-strong scarecrow festival heralded the start of the Royal Horticultural Society’s largest annual event.

The Hampton Court Flower Show opens to the public today, but a preview event was alive with colour.

The show gardens in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace include one formed from a tunnel of tusks which visitors can walk through, built to highlight the plight of around 80 elephants killed each day for their ivory.

Designer Mark Whyte said the project was aimed at showing the scale of the problem.

He said: “Most people know about poaching and the ivory trade, but they aren’t quite aware of the quantity killed each day.”

Will Williams, returning to the show after his debut last year, is demonstrating natural solutions to flooding with a display of alder trees, inspired by the North Yorkshire town of Pickering which has worked with nature to cope with floods.

An urban rain garden to handle the increased rainfall from climate change, designed by Rhiannon Williams in her first show garden, has small front and back plots with measures to catch and store water.

Talks at the show’s “Celebrity Theatre” include TV nature presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan, and a live challenge will see the self-styled “Black Gardener”, Danny Clarke, creating a nine-square metre vertical installation made up of 616 plants, in three hours flat.

“I’ll make it up as I go along,” he said. “It should be fine.”