How to create your own Chelsea garden
Each year, the number one event in the Royal Horticultural Society’s calendar is the Chelsea Flower Show. An iconic festival loved by horticulturalists, gardeners and designers worldwide, the Chelsea Flower Show first bloomed in 1862. Since then it’s been thrilling green-fingered types on an annual basis. The event is a brilliant barometer of gardening trends, providing acres of inspiration at exactly the time of year when our thoughts turn towards our own gardens. This year’s show was no different and we’ve hand-picked five of the trends that you can replicate at home.
Lupins and foxgloves
Like the cut of your coat and the height of your heels, flowers float in and out of fashion in a never-ending cycle. This year, lupins and foxgloves each seemed to be riding high. Of course, there are similarities; both boast vibrant hues and both lend height and drama to planting. One of the stand-out pieces in this year’s show was the Modern Slavery Garden, which was relatively sparse in terms of planting. Its centrepiece was a large oak tree planted in tribute to 18th century slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce. However, the edges of the piece were full of cheerfully nodding lupins and foxgloves.
Silver medal-winning garden God’s Own Country (A Garden for Yorkshire) made beautiful use of natural Yorkstone. Taking its inspiration from York Minster, the garden was sponsored by Welcome to Yorkshire. It used blocks of this warm, attractive material to reference the furniture of a cathedral – the tombs, pews, benches and architectural details that create its ambiance. Meanwhile, the colours used in the garden’s planting were chosen to mirror those in the minster’s stained glass windows. The stone used in the garden was supplied by Marshalls.
Although you may think lawns would be a Chelsea staple, in fact the show is not usually awash with swathes of green underfoot. This year, the humble lawn was thrust back into the spotlight by a few designers, most notably Jo Thompson in his Chelsea Barracks Garden. Ostensibly a rose garden, this pretty, British design made excellent use of a perfectly groomed, luxuriously lush green lawn. Lawns were also flavour-of-the-day over at the World Vision Garden where turf defied gravity, rising up in waves to represent life’s highs and lows.
Delicate and quintessentially British, meadow flowers featured heavily in 2016’s Chelsea designs. Low maintenance and adding an easy-on-the-eye prettiness to any garden, meadow flowers are also fantastic if you’re hoping to attract more bees, butterflies and birds to your garden.
For a few years now, the warm glow of copper has been popular with interior designers. Vibrant and eye-catching, this substance is one that works well with natural materials and it’s extremely versatile, making it perfect for garden accessories and furniture. At Chelsea, water sculptor Giles Rayner created a geometric, pool-like structure for Nick Bailey’s Beauty of Mathematics Garden. The space, which used exotic succulents to great effect, also introduced the colour of copper through timber staircases and benches with mathematical formulas precisely carved out of them.
Of course, these are just a handful of ideas to have come out of a veritable feast of gardens created by an array of highly accomplished professionals. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t borrow some inspiration and apply it to your own personal outdoor haven in a way that’s absolutely unique to you.