So, I had a good time at Hampton Court, but did I do the jobs? Revisiting my quest list:
1. Fancy tomatoes. What joy! I found last year's crazy tomato seller and obtained Black Zebra Cherry (compact, fast, colourful), Orange Banana Plum (long plum tomatoes, good for cooking), First in the Field (super-early, tough, prolific and heirloom), and Sweet Aperitif (a super-sweet dessert/cocktail cherry).
2. Chilli Pepper Vampire. FAIL. It's only sold by a couple of companies and I didn't find them (the heritage marquee, probably - I didn't make it there). I got Chilli Pepper Twilight instead - a prolific multi-coloured beauty good for display and eating, from the same seed pushers as above.
3. A tiny alpine. Oversucceeded. I certainly managed a replacement Leptinella Squalida but also a Fuschia Procumbens and a hilariously suggestive houseleek. Ooops.
4. Weird Edible. Well, I did get some fancy squash seed, but the real excitement is Tree Spinach - I was cooing over some fantastically hot magenta young plants before regretfully concluding that the pot was just too big to carry. Then I found seeds.
5. The most beautiful flower in the show. That'd be Erica Cerinthoides, below at the show and (right) the rather battered specimen I brought home. A week in the lean-to has put it right, and it's busy baking back to pink outside now (the colour is dependent on how much sun it receives and ranges from white to a non-UK achievable (it's South African) scarlet). Runner up was Dahlia Happy Single Party (seen in a show garden, identified in a floral display and eventually bought from the National Dahlia Society table) and the one that got away was the fourth flower, which is, and I really had to check the label to be sure, a Delphinium.
So, 4/5 on my things. What about my ideas?
1. Ideas for varying the plant height in the big bed. There was some nice use of bugles and other low tough plants in the show gardens, plus some rather nice looking shade-loving perennials in the plant marquee, but no lightbulb moments. 1/2
2. Water planters (small) tips and tricks. I saw a couple of nice ones, including this one. Pretty! 1/2
3. Clever greenhouse tricks. I saw nobody doing anything cleverer than what I am doing already. 0
4. Gravity-fed watering systems. I found one in the catalogue, but couldn't find it on the ground. 0
5. Wildlifery. Bar a leaflet about hedgehogs, not a sausage. 0
So, on ideas, a pitiful 1/5. Which may be unfair, of course. Looking for specific ideas is a bit of a fool's errand. The unexpected and unlooked-for ideas are those with more force.