[Infographic] How to create your urban garden?
Held in London since the early 1900s, the Chelsea Flower Show is of the most famous flower and landscape shows in England, if not the world! Attended by green-fingered celebrities and attracting visitors from all continents.
I must admit, I am ultra-privileged to be able to attend the press day of the Chelsea Flower Show each year. This magical first day is when writers, broadcasters (and celebrities!) descend on London to preview ‘the greatest flower show on earth’!
I always feel such a buzz of anticipation as I skirt the London streets, almost skipping, on my way to this floral paradise! My first stop is usually the Great Pavilion where the specialist nurseries and exciting plants are, but in recent years the gardens have begun to grab my attention more and more.
Some may see the gardens on television and describe them as ‘outlandish’ and complain that they’re unachievable in the average garden. But it wouldn’t be Chelsea Flower Show without a touch of theatre!
However, in recent years, the RHS have responded by inviting smaller Artisan Gardens, and the innovative Fresh Gardens, into their floral carnival! These are much similar in size to a European garden.
However, wherever large or small, there are always plenty of elements you can steal from the gardens at Chelsea. After all, they are there to inspire you. The easiest steal is usually a planting combo, whether blended colours or textures.
So, as I sit back with aching feet, I’m taking some time to digest everything I’ve seen. Here are my highlights!
The Chengdu Silk Road Garden by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins
To me, this was the perfect garden, it had architectural presence, unique design, AND unusual plants. Every plant in this ‘east meets west’ inspired garden is a Chinese native plant; the beds were packed with Peonies, Rhododendrons, grasses and shrubs. The aim was to highlight how many commonly grown Western plants actually have their origins in the East. The colourful sloping beds represent the mountainous Szechuan landscape too, but of course many are likening them to a Great Wall of China silhouette.
Beneath a Mexican Sky by Manoj Malde
I am a HUGE fan of colour and texture, so this garden had everything I needed! Designed by Manoj Malde, and inspired by Mexican Modernism. I was crazy for the way Manoj had managed to blend vibrant pink and orange with beige, and it worked! Brave planting saw mediterranean, architectural style plants mixed in with typical cottage garden plants. This created yet another surprisingly successful combination!
Hagakure Hidden Leaves Garden by Shuko Noda
A small space garden, framed energetically by a bold red wooden framework! The garden offers a peaceful haven, and even includes a tatami mattress bench, where one can relax beneath the shade of Dogwood Trees, with Hostas and Ferns planted just inches from their feet! Whilst not the usual idea of a Japanese garden to a Westerner, this had such a cosy, forest feel!
I stopped in my tracks when I reached The Orchid Society’s display. There were some plants that I’d never seen in real life before, yet had read so much about. The Anguloa orchids were there are in their glory! You may have seen these on the internet, as they often go viral due to their appearance of a ‘swaddled baby in a crib’! This eye-popping stand also has the cheeky monkey-faced Masdevallia and some cute little Cypripedium! Whilst not the simplest of orchids to grow, the specimens of this display will surely hit the headlines this week!
Narrowly missing on the Plant of the Year title didn’t stop Clematis ‘Taiga’ grabbing the attention of every passer-by! A compact Clematis that makes sense on a patio or balcony, with pompom blooms in the almost inconceivable colours of purple and GREEN! Coming from a keen plant breeder in Japan, the blooms of ‘Taiga’ are as theatrical as you’d expect at Chelsea Flower Show too. They unfurl slowly over a few days, creating a few costume changes as they slowly open, and the petals unfold!
Michael Perry is a well-known European plants expert and product developer, with a career spanning 18 years and around 300 new plants! He lectures worldwide and is a regular on British television, thanks to his enthusiasm and likeable approach to gardening.
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