Five garden trends from RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Nicky Roeber, online horticultural expert at Wyevale Garden Centres shares his favourite trends from this year’s 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, because it give us a clear picture of which gardening trends are going to be big over the coming months.

Following each flower show, I make a list of the trends that stood out and come up with ways in which I can incorporate my favourites into the design of an outdoor space. Here’s some ideas from this year’s show.

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. At least two gardens boasted the rare evergreenTrochodendron 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.

To follow this trend, go light on the flowers and, instead, fill the outdoor space with shrubs, long grasses, and ferns. Painting fences or garden benches green can also help create this monochrome look. 

2. The more trees the better

Many of the gardens at Chelsea this year were inspired by woodlands. The Resilience Garden, designed by Sarah Eberle FSGD, used trees that are resistant to climate change in order to showcase what ‘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.

The flowering cherry tree Prunus mume‘Beni-chidori’makes a beautiful focal point for a small garden. In larger gardens, a 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.

3. Dainty flowers are in

According to this year’s show, when it comes to flowers, the daintier the better. In the past, show gardens have displayed large blooms, but now it’s the greenery that comes to the fore with slight accents of colour added 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. Designer Andrew Duff combined cow parsley with delicate buttercups on the Savills and David Herber Garden, while Helen Elks-Smith used the ethereal plant to brighten the native hedgerows that wrapped around the central pavilion of her space on the Warner Edwards Gin Garden. 

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.

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 roofs and walls to life

At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, there were an array of 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.

The simplest way to turn an existing fence or wall into your a 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.

5. Just add water

From waterfalls to streams and ponds, there were some impressive water features on show this year. Perhaps the most dramatic example was in The Trailfinders “Undiscovered Latin America”Garden created by Jonathan Snow, who incorporated waterfalls that cascaded into a pool below into his design.

Elsewhere, 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.

For similar effects take notes from the Chelsea Flower Show’s gardeners by adding an element of movement. Whether the tranquillity of a stream, or the impact that a waterfall can have, simply adding some water to a garden space gives a new lease of life.

While there were so many other trends that ran through this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, these are the five that stood out to me, and ones I think will catch on in the coming months. 

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