Most of us can’t afford ‘grand design’
in our gardens, bringing in professionals for TV-style
makeover. But we are always looking for hints, tips
and ideas that will give our gardens a distinctive look.
It can be as simple as where to place a deckchair or
arranging a group plants. Here Ruth Chivers takes
a look at what we can learn from the major summer Shows.
time of year again. Flower Show season has started and
visiting shows is all about taking ideas home with you.
You’ll find new plants, new features, new design
ideas. You don’t have to spend a fortune either.
Just take a good notebook and/or a camera. In fact,
it’s a good idea to limit Show purchases, unless
you have the ideal spot for a new plant variety that
you fall in love with. That's the theory anyway, and
most plantaholics can’t resist temptation. Chelsea
is different - unless you go on the last day of the
show, plant purchases mean placing orders - delayed
gratification! For many gardeners Chelsea is the high
point of the Show season. In the last few years, design
ideas at the Show have tended to illustrate our reluctance
to look forward when it comes to garden design - a sort
of collective gardening nostalgia. Still, it’s
worth looking closely at the details. This is where
ideas are found.
colours, use of materials, container choices, individual
features - something will invariably catch the eye.
This is where cameras come out – it’s usually
impossible to take pictures of whole gardens amongst
the crowds - and pick up plant lists, mark the ones
that interest you, or jot down notes.
One of this year’s gardens at Chelsea will be
a creation using small alpine and shade-loving plants
with a stream water feature. Another, by the renowned
contemporary designer Christopher Bradley-Hole, will
examine the relationship between the natural world and
the depiction of natural plant or landscape features
in gardens. Yet another will be dominated by spectacular
modern sculptures and water. So, whether you are looking
for planting ideas, thought-provoking ecology statements,
or an hitectural spectacular, there will be a feast
of ideas on show.
And it’s not only the show gardens that can give
you inspiration. Garden design for lots of people is
about grouping plants and the way the different nurseries
do this on their stands in Chelsea and elsewhere provides
a fantastic lesson. You can see how much difference
grouping plants by their height, shape and leaf colour
makes when it is done well, and this really is something
you can easily reproduce at home.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com