Last Saturday I visited RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the first time. I’ve been longing to go for ages; not only is it THE place to see the top garden designers showing off their talents, there’s so much inspiration elsewhere, with the amazing floral marquee, the smaller artisan and fresh gardens, and the hundreds of stalls offering gardening retail therapy.
We had a fantastic day, immersing ourselves in each garden we came across, and learning about the inspiration behind them. Now obviously the Chelsea show gardens are works of art, and as such they’re not always entirely practical for family life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them as inspiration for your own garden. Being surrounded by so many different gardens gives you the perfect opportunity to pick and choose elements that would work well back home. You may not have room for an enormous water feature or a huge flower bed, but you can take the idea and translate it into something that’s workable, while still retaining the original concept.
So many of the gardens gave me ideas which I could incorporate into my own garden, but the one that really stood out for me was Support, the Husqvarna Garden by Charlie Albone.
This garden is designed as an urban retreat, offering space to relax away from the hectic pace of modern life. Well I can definitely relate to that!
It’s quite a formal garden, with lots of structure and symmetry, but it balances this with softer touches that make the whole space feel relaxed and inviting. I love the use of different levels within the design; our garden is split into two levels and I’m always on the lookout for interesting ways to create a different mood in each area, while also allowing them to flow into each other.
The lawn is sunken, which offers privacy, but also brings the beautiful planting up to your eye level. The clipped hornbeam hedges are ultra-modern, and brilliant for an overlooked garden, and the fact that they don’t take up lots of room at ground level makes them a great option for smaller gardens. With so much clipped hedging this isn’t a particularly low-maintenance garden, but you certainly wouldn’t spend much time mowing or weeding.
All this structure and formality is cleverly softened by the beautiful planting in the borders that run around the edges of the garden. There’s lots of variation in height, which encourages your eye to wander around the plants; I’d really like to try and create this effect in the lower part of our garden. The borders also give the garden bags of texture, which contrasts perfectly with the clipped hedging. I particularly like how the purple colour palette really stands out against the strong greens.
There’s a third level at the far end of the garden, where a modern seating area overlooks the whole space, and this is the part of the design that I would most like to incorporate into our own garden. It’s beautifully simple; neutral colours and natural materials create an understated elegance, and really bring out the surrounding colours in the planting. Again, it’s quite a formal space, but the relaxed seating works much like the borders to soften the whole effect. What a fantastic place to sit and enjoy the garden.
We currently have a deck which overlooks our garden, and I’d love to change it to a paved area like this. The bluestone cobbles are just gorgeous. I’d also love to swap our current hardwood furniture for a more informal style of seating, like the corner sofa used here. I’ve had my eye on something similar from Homebase’s Garden Sofa selection; their Grey Rattan Corner Garden Sofa Set would create a very similar feel, but also be a more practical option for a family garden.
This is what I loved most about the Chelsea flower show; the fact that you can immerse yourself in the mood of each garden, but also take from them specific ideas which help you to improve your own outdoor space. It’s an inspiring day out, but also a very practical one too. It really was the most wonderful way to window shop, I suspect we’ll be regulars at the show from now on!
Did you visit RHS Chelsea Flower Show, or watch the coverage on TV? I’d love to hear which gardens inspired you this year.
We were provided with tickets to Chelsea Flower Show by Homebase.