We were wowed by the amazing gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013, and inspired by the designer’s imaginative designs. Here’s our top 10 ideas to weave into your gardens at home…
1. Create a bird paradise
Install a shallow, pebble-filled pool, like this one in Professor Nigel Dunnett (above) and the Landscape Agency’s ‘RBC Blue Water Roof Garden’, to provide the perfect bathing and drinking area for your feathery friends.
2. Adopt a chic enclosure
Create a snug, sunken hideaway like this one in Jo Thompson’s ‘Stop the Spread’ garden. Sheltered from the wind, the low-level seating also allows you to get up close and personal with your plants. Try a frill of scented blooms to add to the sensory experience, and maybe a comfy sofa from ACHICA instead of the bench.
3. Add interest to small gardens
‘The East Village Garden’ by Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius was a vision of carefully crafted features, including this gorgeous steel-edged bubbling pool fringed with moisture-loving arum lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’), which you could squeeze into the tiniest of gardens.
4. Add a treehouse
This rustic treehouse in the ‘NSPCC garden’ by Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith is the stuff of every child’s dream. Cleverly constructed with recycled wood and corrugated iron, its rough and ready look lends it charm and a fairytale quality, set among wild flowers and fruit trees.
5. Mix up your roses
‘The Stoke-on-Trent Garden’ by the Landscape Team updated the traditional rose garden by weaving perennials, such as foxgloves and lilies, between the blooms to create an informal look and hide diseased leaves if the roses succumb to black spot. The roses here include the peachy-coloured ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, white ‘Kew Gardens’ and rich red ‘Darcy Bussell’.
6. Make do and mend
The queen of recycling, Kate Gould, created her amazing show garden, ‘The Wasteland’, using an imaginative range of recycled and upcycled features. This beautiful trellis, ingeniously created from old shopping trollies, would make an ideal support for clematis and other climbers.
7. Add designer seating
Robert Myers’ stunning ‘Brewin Dolphin Garden’ included many features and planting ideas we wanted to steal, but the smooth, sensual, pebble seats were our favourites. Made by sculptor Ben Barrell from cast concrete they would blend beautifully into both modern and traditional designs.
8. Take a tip from a world-renowned garden designer
The master of Modernism, Christopher Bradley-Hole, was in fine form on his return to Chelsea after an absence of eight years. The key to his gold-winning success in ‘The Telegraph Garden’ is simplicity, and these clean-cut, interlocking blocks of yew and box topiary, which are very easy to grow and care for, perfectly illustrate the maxim “less is more’’.
9. Add one of your five a day
We loved Adam Frost’s ‘Sowing the Seeds of Change’ Homebase garden for its romantic offering of fruit, flowers and veg, all set in a beautiful modern design. The most remarkable features were not sophisticated sculptures or exotic plants but the English apple trees, which provided the structure. Easy to grow, apples are the perfect trees for family gardens, offering blossom in spring, shade throughout summer and delicious fruits later in the year. Now, what other plants can add that kind of value?
10. Push the borders and boundaries
Take inspiration from conceptual designer Tony Smith and let your imagination run riot. In his garden installation, he transformed sets of upturned, painted wheelbarrows – which, he says, represent the unsung heroes of every Chelsea garden – into a work of art. We celebrate your creativity Tony.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert