5 trends to take from RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Nicky Roeber is the Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres. Here, he shares some of his favourite trends that were spotted at the Chelsea Flower Show 2019.

For keen gardeners in the UK, the Chelsea Flower Show is an absolute treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. It’s something that we all look forward to each year because, not only does it give us a clear picture of which gardening trends are going to be huge over the coming months, but it can also get us very excited about being able to spend more time tending to our plants and lawns now that it’s getting warmer.

Following each Flower Show, I like to make a list of the trends that stood out to me and come up with ways in which I can incorporate my favourites into the design of my outdoor space. And, I’m going to share some of the ideas I’ve taken from this year’s event with you.

1. Green is the magic colour

Of course, most gardens boast a lot of greenery by default. But, at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the colour was used as more than just a backdrop for flowers and decorative elements: it was actually the hue of choice for many gardeners.

Outdoor spaces that were almost exclusively green were created using an abundance of lush foliage and green flowers including Tellima grandifloraand euphorbias. We even saw at least two gardens that boasted the rare evergreen Trochodendron aralioides. It wasn’t just the plants that were green, either. For example, the Greenfingers Charity Garden had green tiles and pillars, which help to tie the space together beautifully.

If this is a trend you would like to jump on, go light on the flowers and, instead, fill your outdoor space with plenty of shrubs, long grasses, and ferns. Painting your fences or garden benches green can also help you to achieve this monochrome look. 

2. The more trees the better

Many of the gardens that we saw at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show were inspired by woodlands. For example, the Resilience Garden, which was designed by Sarah Eberle FSGD, used trees that are resistant to climate change in order to show us what the ‘forests of the future’ are likely to look like. Andy Sturgeon FSGD also created a woodland look using young trees, ferns, and jewel-like flowers.

If you spend a lot of time tending to your flower beds and plant containers but haven’t given trees much thought until now, consider adding one or two to your outdoor space. Flowering cherry tree Prunus mume‘Beni-chidori’ makes a beautiful focal point for a small garden. In larger gardens, you could create your own native woodland area with a group of rowan or hawthorn trees, and a line of pleached trees around the edge of an urban garden offers an attractive way to mask fences and blur the boundaries between your garden and the great outdoors. 

3. Dainty flowers are in

According to this year’s show, when it comes to flowers, the daintier the better. In the past, we’ve seen large displays of blooms, but now it’s all about letting your greenery do the talking and adding slight accents of colour using the tiniest blossoms.

Cow parsley proved especially popular this year, thanks to its white frothy flowers that are perfect for adding a charming element to any garden. Andrew Duff combined cow parsley with delicate buttercups, while Helen Elks-Smith used the ethereal plant to brighten the native hedgerows that wrapped around the central pavilion of her space. However, as anyone who’s seen it growing by the roadside will know, cow parsley spreads readily and can take over in small gardens so, for a similar effect, try the better-behaved annuals Orlaya grandifloraor Ammi majus.

Of course, there are plenty of other flowers that will help you to get this bloom-peppered effect. Just remember to go heavy on the greenery and light on the blossoms. 

4. Bring your roofs and walls to life

At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, we also saw many living roofs and vertical gardens, as designers saw every surface of their spaces as an opportunity to create something beautiful. For example, Helen Elk-Smith’s garden for Warner’s Gin boasted a vibrant roof covered in sedums, euphorbia, and thyme, while the largest green wall the Chelsea Flower Show has ever seen could be found in Andrew Duff’s design. This was created using a mix of ferns, grasses, ivies, and herbaceous flowering plants.

5. Just add water

This is a trend that you can incorporate into your own space quite easily. The simplest way to turn an existing fence or wall into your own living wall is simply to cover it with climbers like ivy, clematis, or roses. Wall shrubs such as Chaenomeles (Japanese quince) or espaliered fruit trees also look lovely trained against a wall, or you can use pots or modular units fixed to the wall and planted with a mix of small evergreen and herbaceous perennials.

From waterfalls to streams and ponds, we saw many an impressive water feature at this year’s event. Perhaps the most dramatic example could be found in a garden created by Jonathan Snow, who incorporated waterfalls that cascaded into a pool below into his design.

Joe Perkins collaborated with Facebook on a garden to celebrate the positive side of social media, and he estimated that around 30% of the surface area of his garden was covered in water. Because of the subject matter of his garden, he used this water to create movement, and was also inspired by the eroding force of waves, which can change our coastline and the landscape as a whole.

Helen Elks-Smith was inspired by natural springs, which gave her space a calm and more relaxing feel. Her garden was peppered with little water features, and there were streams that flowed quietly throughout. She wasn’t the only gardener that created tranquillity with water, either: Andy Sturgeon also added clear trickling streams to his space, while Tom Hoblyn and Andrew Duff used oasis-like pools to encourage a feeling of calm.

If you’re looking to add a water feature to your garden, I would recommend taking notes from the Chelsea Flower Show’s gardeners by adding an element of movement. Whether you would prefer the tranquillity of a stream, or the impact that a waterfall can have, simply adding some water to your space could give it a new lease of life.

Of course, there were many other trends that ran through this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, but these are the five that stood out to me and I think will catch on in the coming months. So, if you would like to give your outdoor space an award-winning feel, why not focus on greenery, create a vertical garden, or add a new water feature? It’ll make all the difference! 

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