Once the initial wonder of the show gardens has subsided at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I like to home in on the smaller details and ideas to take home to my own plot, which I write about every month in Modern Gardens magazine. I recorded my first impressions of this year’s show on my blog yesterday, here’s my second take on a wonderful day.
There was a lovely selection of balcony and container gardens by nine designers new to the show, all of whom have been mentored by Paul Hervey-Brooks. These tiny gardens are so clever and appealing. The one above, Feels Like Home, won a gold award. It has been kept pared back and simple, with a dark background that makes plants pop. I have used this at home, and it really works in a limited space. These plants have been chosen to remind the creator of their home in New Zealand.
I also liked The Restorative Balcony Garden sponsored by Viking. Young designer Christina Cobb told me: “I wanted to create a high spec space using reclaimed materials.” She chose sweet chestnut for the shingles, sleek planters made from recycled resin and a hand dyed fabric backdrop. The planting palette was limited, another great idea in a smaller space, as it stops things from looking too fussy. In Christina’s case, she stuck to blue-toned plants which harmonised with the plum tones of the tree.
The trade stands are well worth examining closely for planting ideas. I loved this huge old copper planter with its gorgeous mixture of geums, nepeta and astrantia, seen on the Architectural Heritage stand. Blue and orange is one of my favourite pairings. I have a large copper container like this one, picked up a few years ago at an antiques fair. I’m definitely going to refresh it with some of these perennials.
Here’s another stunning planting combination for a border. The Melica uniforma grass with the dicentra, blackcurrant coloured hardy geranium and flat-topped achillea is dreamy. This was seen on Pelham Plants trade stand inside the Great Pavilion.
Another beautiful planting scheme, this time by Pollyanna Wilkinson around The Monument (see my previous post for full details of this). Here are upright salvias and foxgloves, pops of colour from geums, with irises and alliums.
For a more subtle style, how about this: just grasses, foxgloves and aquilegia. Pared back cottage style.
Agriframes always has a lovely stand, packed with ideas, and they sell the planting structures and containers at www.agriframes.co.uk Here we have three zinc buckets simply planted with roses and nepeta. Perfect!
I liked these jolly pelargoniums in clever pot holders attached to a wire trellis, also by Agriframes.
Each year, there is an RHS Plant of the Year award, and I love seeing the displays of the hopeful contenders. It was won by a rather gorgeous agapanthus ‘Black Jack’ in 2023. There was quite a scrum around this plant, which made me think it might be selected (and the crowd is the reason I don’t have a decent photo of it!).
Even the most humble plant settings look amazing, and the allotment/veg garden style has always fascinated me. A screen print of an allotment was my A level art project and I’ve never lost the aesthetic appreciation. The Alitex cold frame, above, looked so pretty dressed with red strawberries.
And how about this for some veg garden goals? Thanks to the Burpee team for this fabulous stand. Here are a few more which caught my eye in and around the site:
I would LOVE that parasol!
I hope that has given you a glimpse of some of the plants and people who inspired me this year. It’s always possible to import a little piece of Chelsea magic into your own garden, and I am excited to do just that.
Remember: the best things in life are green!