I was lucky enough to be given a free ticket to Chelsea Flower Show this year. It was my first ever visit and I was overwhelmed. I went with few preconceptions, as I’d heard such mixed reports from various people, but of course I was intrigued, and I was not disappointed!
The first thing that struck me was the sheer scale of the whole thing, and for colour, spectacle and just general masses of lovely rainbow prettiness- it delivered.
Of course most of the gardens on display showcase a level of horticulture the average punter cannot hope to achieve in their back yards, but I did come away feeling quite inspired by a few nifty little planting ideas.
The first thing was that the whole show brought home to me that when it comes to planting, dense swathes of a small selection is infinitely more effective than too much of a mixture. For example the Tropaeolum majus above; (I love their leaves, like little cartoon frogs umbrellas), it’s a common annual, but planted in a generous mound like this, it looks gorgeous and vibrant. Likewise the Alliums at the top.
Other simple planting ideas that appealed to me was the use of strong, contrasting colours, such as the silver blue Festuca glauca (left), mixed with some tangerine bright Geums.
Bright exclamations of colour on a silky background of mixed foliages, such as the Mattuecia struthiopteris and Hostas accented with again, Geums, and a few creamy spires of Digitalis purpurea, make a gorgeous shade display. (though Geum’s prefer sun or just a light shade.)
Orange and Purple have a been a big trend for 2016, and some basic Buxus balls (so boring but so useful) are really enlivened by being pared with some deep amethyst Salvia nemorosa, dusky purple Astrantia major and the ever present Geums!
Of all the show gardens, it was Support, The Husquvarna Garden, designed by Charlie Albone (left) with the rich texture of foliages, the subtle use of silvery tones to accent the strong purples, the pleached Beeches with that lustrous sheen on their green, green, green leaves, that was the winner for me.
‘A Modern Apothecary‘ designed by Jekka McVicar (right) was also stunning, celebrating herbs for their decorative as well as their medicinal appeal.