The Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle of the garden design world. It’s full of inspiring creations and stunning plants.
Some people say that show gardens are not blueprints for your garden at home. They are showy, big-budget creations filled with plants that look their best at the same time.
That may be true. But they are full of great ideas you can take home and implement in your own garden. Here’s my top 10 from this year’s show.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them!
This is one the biggest trends from the show this year. Stone is a good material for landscaping because it’s natural and gives a sense of permanence. It makes your garden feel like it’s always been there.
The award for the most stones in a show garden goes to the Chatsworth Laurent-Perrier garden, which contained 300 tonnes of stone!
But it works well on a smaller scale, creating shape and structure among the plants. Stone is also perfect for water features.
Stone fire pit
The most popular colour this year was orange. Designers built on its prominence last year to use it in almost every garden this time around!
It adds a bright, warm tone to the garden and works well with purple and red.
I also noticed it being used alongside lots of silvery foliage and grasses, as well as in tropical planting schemes. The meadow flower trend is still going strong too.
I’ve picked my top 10 orange plants from the show here.
This was probably the most-used plant in the show. It’s great for wild, cottage and woodland gardens and has a relaxed feel. The plants move nicely in the wind too.
Cow parsley is a type of umbellifer, which are known for their showy clusters of flowers. Good alternatives include fennel, ammi majus and angelica.
Plant cow parsley with other tall plants and grasses to add height and movement. It works well with brighter colours, or in an all-white colour scheme.
Reflect in the water
Still water features are a clever way to create a soothing, serene area in the garden. Plus they don’t need complicated pumps and wiring!
To recreate this look at home, build a water feature with straight lines and grow tall plants up to the edges. They should reflect nicely in the water to forge a sense of symmetry and calm.
If you don’t have space for a large pool, you can create the illusion of depth with aquatic dyes. They make the water seem deep and opaque, and they don’t harm plants or wildlife.
Healthy Cities garden
Purpley-red was a popular colour in the show gardens and often used with the ubiquitous orange too. It was also planted among purples like salvia and irises.
Magenta adds depth and warmth to planting schemes. And it’s easy to recreate the look at home. If you are not comfortable pairing contrasting colours, choose similar warm tones.
There are some great varieties of magenta plants to get you started in the list of my 12 favourite plants from Chelsea.
Circles and rings
Circles are a common design feature in gardens and other spaces. They have balance and symmetry, as well as multiple symbolic meanings.
Spy-through circles are effective in a garden – they focus the eye through to one particular area. I loved the one made of crushed tin cans too. It’s a fab way to make a garden feature for next to nothing.
You can also use circles within a long narrow garden to make it feel wider and more open. They were used well in the Homebase garden as stepping stones that echoed the shape of the topiary balls.
Circle stepping stones
Tin can circle
Royal Bank of Canada garden
Sustainability is a big trend in the garden world today, including water saving and harvesting. With water prices rising and supplies diminishing, many of us don’t want a garden that needs watering every day.
The popularity of dry gardens reflects this trend. The Royal Bank of Canada garden took water saving as its theme, and displayed a zero-irrigation garden.
Other exhibitors built Mediterranean and African gardens showing drought-tolerant plants. And the use of gravel mulch cuts down water evaporation from the soil.
Brewin Dolphin garden
Slate lends the garden a clean, contemporary feel. Some 40,000 pieces of slate were used in the striking Brewin Dolphin garden to create those modern floating platforms.
Elsewhere, slate was used primarily as gravel, giving paths a darker feel. I also loved the slate chips used underneath the water features in the Telegraph garden.
The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge front garden used slate slabs to create a driveway for parking. The slate gravel also reduced watering needs while allowing water to soak into the soil, rather than run off the surface.
Front garden slate
Cloudy Bay garden
Grasses are one of the most underrated plants in the world. They add texture and movement to planting schemes, and create a rich backdrop for flowers to shine.
The popularity of dry and meadow gardens meant that grasses were used to great effect this year. Light, wispy grasses lifted the L’Occitane and Cloudy Bay gardens, adding to the airy feeling of weightlessness.
Grass seed heads also make a fantastic garden feature – some even look like fireworks. And shorter, greener grasses add height and shape to naturalistic grassy planting.
Grass seed heads
Chatsworth Laurent-Perrier garden
The sylvan trend shows no sign of abating. It deserves a mention again this year because it’s still so popular.
Trees and woody shrubs can be used in any garden, no matter how small. They provide shade and shelter, as well as privacy.
This year, the woodland trend was combined with the resurgence of cottage gardens. Trees were under planted with the flower spires of lupins, foxgloves and delphiniums.