My 10 takeaways from Chelsea Flower Show 2017 (Part 2)
Welcome to Part 2 of my 10 Takeaways from Chelsea Flower Show.
In Part 1, I covered a lot about garden landscaping which is one of the big themes across the show and specifically (1) how to use paths and patios to define your outdoors space; (2) how to choose material that will require little maintenance if time is of essence; (3) how to create spaces that you will be able to enjoy year-round; (4) brands to choose your garden furniture from and finally I touched upon (5) the importance of adding lighting sources around your garden.
In this second part, I'll be covering more trends!
6. Living Walls
I first came across a living wall when popular shopping destination Westfield Shepherds Bush was opened, with its iconic vertical landscape creating an oasis of calm right next to the busy shopping centre, complete with fountains.
At 170 meter (560 foot) long, that living wall was north facing and lacking any direct sun, yet the designers brought together a variety of woodland species that totally thrived on it. It still looks as good as when the plants where first installed on it.
Living walls have become very popular as a result of lack of horizontal space. So if you live in a flat but still want to experience the goodness of running your own garden, a vertical one could be just the right thing for you.
There are various hanging systems available, and although most large scale installations are undertaken by experienced landscape garden/plant specialists, you could create a small garden on the wall of your kitchen or living room.
Having a living wall externally can be good for your home's maintenance. It acts as an extra layer of insulation (even for noise) and can deflect heavy rain from the walls while in the hot summer weather it helps to keep the home cool.
Aesthetically of course, it is very appealing. But do ensure that they remain properly irrigated. For more information check here.
And if you thought that a bit of moss will suffice, think again. Heuchera, Thyme, Sedum, Carex and Ajuga all make great residents for live walls. You can even turn your dining room wall into a vertical allotment with careful planning.
Photos above: Jenny Kakoudakis for Seasons in Colour
7. How to add interest with flowers and plants
I know it sounds obvious but is it really? A lot of us visit nurseries only around the middle of Spring, so that when we go, we get drawn to whatever plant has the best looking colours and little do we think about our soil, and what direction our garden has. This also limits our choices to a few basic plants that will be on display.
Personally, I have killed many plants with over acidic soil and totally roasted shade-loving ones by placing them where they would receive the most light throughout the day. How wrong I was.
In addition, I had never planted my own bulbs and bought ready to plant flowers that were not great quality and did not grow back after the first year (that's if they survived after a few months).
One thing that I took away from the Chelsea Flower Show and specifically from the sponsored Show Gardens is that there are so many more plants that I should be considering to add interest, especially by playing with heights.
Not everything needs to be down on the ground. Think about going around your garden and being able to touch some of your plants without kneeling down, for example.
Choose flowers carefully. Plant the shorter ones closest to the border and progressively the taller ones behind those. Mix the heights so that you have peaks and valleys. Lupins, cotton candy grass, rhododendrons, alliums are all tall and you can mix them with smaller sized stock, pelargoniums, cosmos and echinaceas.
Photos: Jenny Kakoudakis for Seasons in Colour
You cannot have a designer garden and only have plants on the ground. I do love a good trio of planters in different heights as much as I love big square planters with bay leaf or olive trees in them and lavender underneath.
The following are all firm favourite of landscape garden designers and architects and will enhance your garden in no time!
Heavily influenced by the gardens of Versailles, the similarly named planter by A PLACE IN THE GARDEN (below) is adorned with ball finials and rings, which gives it a very traditional look. It is indeed a statement and is certainly deep enough to plant a small tree. They look fabulous when planted with a half standard Bay Tree and underplanted with Lavender. As seen in the Chelsea Flower Show trade stand of the firm.
For those who love luxury and the freedom to choose from a variety of material, try the Bronzino ribbed planters which are pressed out from sheets of metal – the ribs give strength to the soft copper and zinc allowing it to contain the weight of soil and trees.
In the past, round containers in Scotland were often simple wooden tubs or barrels known as coggies, caups, baikies and bickers – the staves held in place with bands of twisted tree roots. These early containers were often manufactured by travelling folk, camping in ancient woodlands and on river banks. Alternatively, you can try one of their boxes (below).
These simple elegant boxes can be made up to 4 m long. Popular with landscape architects they take the name of the talented Scot Patrick Geddes. Admired throughout the world for his immense contribution to social theory and town planning, Geddes is considered a forerunner of the modern green ecology movement.
If however you prefer a little colour around your garden, these colourful galvanised planters from AMELIE Design might be the thing for you! They caught my eye in Chelsea Flower Show. Fab to have a couple of them just for your herbs and salads.
9. Garden extras - statues and water features
Right, I am not implying now that we should all go and get a horse for the garden BUT there are small sized products - from sculptures to fountains that can be easily transported and installed and will get everyone talking at your next summer party (although I do think the horse would probably start the most conversations).
And if a horse is not good enough, how about a grass bear to break that ice! Although you might need to put up a sign that a) it's friendly and b) it loves hugs.
Below: The Leaf Balls by A Place in the Garden are made of hundreds of individually cut leaves, layered and hand welded onto a spherical frame. They look stunning placed in flower beds surrounded by lavender, offering all year round interest in the garden, or in groups of threes and fives with the other sized Leaf Balls.
If your budget allows, and want something that is both unique and will turn into an investment for your home, try some outdoors art, with a marble sculpture. Not to everyone's taste, I'll have that, but for me these are just so elegant, beautiful and unique, they are just perfect.