I love the early weeks of June – bad weather and frosts are usually over, the best flowers are coming out, summer’s on its way, and Chelsea Flower Show rolls into the Royal Hospital grounds once again.
I find the show so inspiring – yes, the glorious gardens can often seem a little unattainable, with their perfect planting and expensive-looking features, but there are always a few little ideas to take away for your own garden. A new plant here, a colour combination there, a new way of planting your favourite blooms, perhaps.
For the gardener in all of us, being at the show or watching it on TV always makes us want to get a little ambitious and try something new
Last year I loved the looser planting schemes used by most of the Chelsea designers, showing that cottage style and wilder gardens can be really stylish and low maintenance at the same time. Bright orange geums, blue purple irises, salvias and alliums tucked in among zingy lime grasses need little work but is so high impact.
Try a libertia, an evergreen lime to bronze-orange grass for year-round vivid colour – once all your spring and summer plants have died down it will be there brightening your borders. Plus it gives all those summer flowers a run for their money with its orchid-like white blooms.
This year I love the idea behind Jekka McVicar’s herb garden, which is a riot of colour at the centre with beds teeming with aromatic herbs, edible and medicinal plants such as lavender, lovage and sorrel. It’s a garden for all senses, so when you sit in it you can enjoy smells and colourful sights from all sides – wonderful. This is easy to recreate at home – add a little area by your back door planted with a mixture of tender and hardy herbs – try bergamot, hyssop or lemon balm. Brush past and release their scents to put a smile on your face each time you go into the house.
As it happens, the theme of all the Chelsea exhibits this year is ‘health and happiness’, which to me sums up the wonderful adventure that is gardening, wouldn’t you agree?
3 ways to… get the Chelsea look
1. Contrast colour
It’s all about the wow factor, with the gardens designed to turn heads. Planting is key, so try some orange or yellow plants teamed with purple for maximum impact.
2. Plant densely
You won’t see a single gap in the flowerbeds at the show! A thriving, beautiful garden is always jam-packed.
3. Add a water feature…
...it adds another dimension – plus you’ll get all sorts of wildlife coming for a drink and a splash around.
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