Show season is a great time to spot new trends and get inspiration for your own garden – whether it’s a full makeover or simply working in one or two eye-catching elements.
Garden designer Tracy Foster, who has created a dramatic entry at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show for tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, believes there are plenty of ideas that visitors to the summer’s shows can take away with them.
“There are quite a few gardens this season that have been inspired by natural landscapes, with native wildflowers for whatever country or region their garden is representing,” she says. “The tip to take from this is to use flowers and plants that will grow well in a particular area, whether it’s dry, windy or so on, rather than making something grow in a place that wouldn’t be its first choice. It’s about more informed planting.
“Hard landscaping is also such an important element of every garden design and there are some wonderful examples during show season. When I came to garden design it was through a love of plants but now I’m just as excited and obsessed with the hard landscaping materials. I really appreciate the difference they make to a design and the whole feel of a garden.”
Where Tracy believes some homeowners go wrong is in not thinking carefully enough about the final look before they get started. “If you have a large area to cover and don’t apply much imagination, it ends up covered in the same material and can look boring.”
Her advice is to introduce planting pockets where you can and arrange for water to drain off in their direction. “When it comes to effective drainage, Marshalls have a huge array of permeable paving options that offer a great fit for any design and you can also work in drainage solutions that will feed your plants and flowers,” she says.
“In terms of aesthetics, I try to use more than one landscaping material – two or three, possibly even four spread across the garden – repeating some materials here and there, but breaking it up to make it more interesting.”
Simple tips to liven up your outdoor space
In terms of easy but effective ways to bring a flavour of the show gardens to your own outdoor area, one trick is to put a border around your patio, using slightly different materials to create an eye-catching contrast.
“A nice technique is to bring the border in so that it’s half-a-metre or a metre into the patio, so you’re creating a kind of picture frame or rug effect,” suggests Tracy. “Then you can lay paving within that border at a different angle to keep the effect going.
“Just doing little things like that can really liven it up, making it look designed and intentional, as well as avoiding the ‘car park look’.”
While there is plenty of inspiration on display at events like Chelsea, Chatsworth and BBC Gardeners’ World Live she warns it would be a mistake to try to replicate the gardens down to the last detail. “Show gardens are only designed to exist for a short period of time rather than being something you live with. But I think every single garden in every style will have something that will give someone an idea they can take away with them.
“In terms of hard landscaping inspiration there are lots of great designs. If you go to a builders’ yard it’s hard to get a feel for what it could achieve, but when you see it all laid out you get a much better idea of just what’s possible.”
The Marshalls brochure is a great place to start as it’s full of inspiration and shows how the same products can be used in multiple settings, giving you great examples of what can be achieved in any kind of space.
Marshalls will be at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from May 23 to 27. Come and find us at Stand FR66, where we’ll be showcasing a range of never-before-seen bespoke natural stone products including show-stopping screens and a luxurious chaise longue. Together with our inspirational sample wall, it will allow visitors to see the largest range of products we have ever taken to Chelsea.