10 fantastic ideas to steal from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

We’ve toured all the wonderful show gardens and nurseries at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show to bring you some fab ideas to use in your garden at home. Take lead from the experts and be inspired with these top hints and tips. And don’t forget to check out ACHICA for some great garden furniture and accessories to create your dream outdoor space…

Keep your colour palette simple

Gardeners’ World presenter and designer Jo Swift advises us to restrict the number of different colours in our designs to achieve an elegant uncluttered look. Check out the gorgeous rusty reds and burnished copper shades of the irises and maple tree stems, which mirror the amazing cedarwood frames that add impact to this clever gold-medal-winning design for the Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust (pictured above).

Look up, up and away

Okay, so Diarmuid Gavin’s incredible seven storey Westland Magical Garden may be taking the idea of using vertical space a little too far for the average semi, but the concept is sound. By lifting the focus up rather than extending it out, you can make a small garden feel larger. Erect scaffolding or timber posts to add height to your designs and clothe them with deliciously scented star jasmine (Trachelospermum). Pictured above with a few Chelsea Pensioners!

Use light and bright screens

We just loved the simplicity of the Rainbow Children’s Hospice Garden by Chris Gutteridge of Second Nature Designs. The Perspex screens were an innovative touch and a simple, effective way to divide up a garden. Easy to install, they reflect light and create a clean, frosted backdrop for a contemporary planting scheme of brightly coloured perennials.

Transport your living room outside

You can always rely on the Aussies to bring some luxury outdoor living to the show, and designer Jason Hodges has brought it in spades in his Trailfinders Australian Garden. Maybe the white leather couch wouldn’t last ten years under British skies, as guaranteed in Australia, but the fireplace and relaxing chairs under a beautiful timber canopy would be perfect for cool summer evenings here in Blighty.

Bring back old-fashioned rhodos

Gold medal winner Chris Beardshaw says that colourful rhododendrons and azaleas shouldn’t be consigned to your grannie’s backyard and argues that they are a great asset to all gardens, both traditional and contemporary. As he says of the gorgeous azalea, Rhododendron luteum: “What else gives you such a wonderful colour and scent in spring. Plant it beneath a birch with leafy ferns and primroses for a really up-to-date look.”

Add texture to your walls

Japanese designer Kazuyuki Ishihara deservedly won Best Artisan Garden for his sublime Satoyama Life garden. Most of the design would be beyond mere mortals, with its intrictate detailing of moss and sculpted trees, but you could easily steal the idea of using pebbles to add texture to your design by mortaring them onto a plain brick wall or risers on steps.

Get your clippers out and start shaping up

Topiary is a theme for this year’s show with many of the designers including balls, domes and other structures. Those in Andy Sturgeon’s M&G Garden helped to punctuate his more flowery forms and reflected the circular theme conveyed through the copper sculpture and patterned stone walls. You can buy topiary pre-formed into the shape you desire, or, with some sharp clippers and a  good eye, you can do it yourself.

Keep calm with some cool reflections

Reflective water features can be seen in many of the gardens, and are a wonderful way of introducing light and sound into your garden. Adam Frost has included a gently flowing feature in his beatuful naturalistic gold-medal-winning Lands End Garden to mirror the streams in the Northamptonshire countryside.

Use brights to liven up your planting

Best in Show winner Cleve West is the king of planting design and never puts a foot wrong in his wonderful show gardens. Take a tip from his Brewin Dolphin Garden and use sparkling bright red poppies and lemon yellow geums to create a dynamic effect in your beds and borders.

Plants roses for delicious scent

The Pavilion was packed with gorgeous plants but we were led to the David Austin stand where they were displaying their latest roses. Our favourite is the sumptuous English musk rose called The Lark Ascending, which gradually changes colour from light apricot to creamy yellow as the petals unfold, and emits a delicious light fragrance into the bargain. Yum.

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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert

View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert