5 Trends to try at home from RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
As with what you wear, in the garden you have to work with what you’ve got: size and shape, the basic framework, classic pieces, like evergreens, that earn their place all year round. But to these basics we can add some colour for summer, a new texture, like accessories. Above all, though, like your clothes, your garden should make you feel good, and boost your mood. A message from many show gardens this year was how spending time outside in a natural environment can ease stress. So relax with my takeaway trends from RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019…(medals are in brackets)
No plane left unplanted
Living walls and roofs have been popular for a good few years now, and for good reason: planting in previously unused zones maximises your growing space, particularly useful if you have a small plot, these verdant verticals and horticultural horizontals act as insulation and, well, you’ve got more plants! At Chelsea, The Savills and David Harber Garden (bronze) featured one of the largest green walls ever seen at the Show, as did the Warner’s Distillery Garden with its roof of euphorbia, sedum and thyme, and The Montessori Garden (gold), which mixes herbs, salad leaves and edible flowers on its wall, with wildflowers waving in the wind up top.
Weeds or wildflowers?
A weed, as it’s often defined, is just a plant in the wrong place. A bank of clover edged the Warner’s Distillery Garden (silver-gilt), buttercups brought colour to Welcome to Yorkshire’s canal, Savills and David Harber Garden (bronze), Sarah Eberle’s Resilience Garden (gold), rock-growing pink and white daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus) with clover in The Harmonious Garden of Life (silver) and frothy white cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris, aka Queen Anne’s lace) was almost universal. Maybe it’s time to ease off the weeding and embrace a lower-maintenance look.
Ultra-violet, a dark bluey-purple, was Pantone’s colour of last year, and this year purples and blues in every shade from almost black to sky blue were everywhere in the show gardens – irises, lupins and chives in the Manchester Garden (silver), alliums, irises and lavenders in The Donkey Sanctuary: Donkeys Matter (silver). Very often these blues were paired, strikingly, with orange, its opposite on the colour wheel, and therefore a complementary colour. Delphiniums, salvia, brunnera, geums, poppies and dahlias created the look in the Montessori Garden (gold), and irises and geums RHS Bridgewater Garden. Unlike us, nature never creates a colour clash, but even so, sticking to a single shade can look sophisticated. The Greenfingers Charity Garden (silver-gilt) showcased white and lemon, with aquilegia, roses, irises, lupins and poppies. A one-colour wonder makes whatever your plant choices are look designed and deliberate.
More and more of us are staying grey-haired – although I can’t claim this is responsible for these plants’ Chelsea’s showing. Chosen partly as a response to climate change, silver plants are often drought tolerant – the colour reflects the sun’s rays. Beautiful in their own right, they lighten and brighten an area, and can look stunning by moonlight. Like silver jewellery, they complement all other colours, too. The Dubai Majlis Garden (silver-gilt) featured furry Stachys byzantina (lambs’ ears, lambs’ lugs), Teucrium fruticans (tree germander), artemisia, curry plant, large-leaved fuzzy silver sage. In the Morgan Stanley Garden (gold), Cynara cardunculus (cardoons) took centre stage, backed by artemisia and Hosta ‘Flemish Sky’.
Set up a ‘sitooterie’
Plonk down a chair or two, a bench, log, or even a couple of big crates or boxes, upended, and you’ve defined and delineated the space, no matter how small your outdoor area, as a seating area or ‘sitooterie’ (Scottish for somewhere you ‘sit oot’) as in The Art of Viking Garden (gold) and The Wedgwood Garden (below). So as you move through the garden the fact that they’re there encourages you to sit down, and take a moment, have a drink, read a book or simply to pause and reflect, gain a new perspective and a sense of peace.
Catch up on Chelsea coverage on BBC iPlayer HERE.
If you’ve missed out on Chelsea tickets, don’t forget that the RHS runs loads more shows around the country: RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, 5-9 June; RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, 1-7 July; RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, 17-21 July; Malvern Autumn Show, 28-29 September, and more HERE.
Adrienne Wyper writes about gardening and other good stuff.