Great ideas from RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2012

We searched the prize-winning gardens at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this week for the best flower combos to help you dress up your garden at home. And because the wet weather has made the soil so soggy, it’s a good time to plant. So indulge your imagination with these stunning flowery fusions…

Go on – indulge yourself!

The Essential Indulgence by Raine Clarke-Wills and Chris Holland (above) with plants from Van Arnhem Nursery in Godalming was a lovely small garden full of great ideas. We liked the lavender set into the middle of the deck and the surrounding elegant scheme of box topiary balls, catmint, and burgundy heucheras.

Pass the grass

This elegant combination of grasses helped to secure The Bridge Over Troubled Water garden by Anoushka Feiler the supreme accolade of Best in Show. To recreate this wonderfully wispy arrangement you will need the annual bronze grass Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, together with its perennial sister, Pennisetum orientale ‘Tall Tails’, which has arching stems of fluffy pink-tinged white flowers. Combine these with red dotty Sanguisorba tenuifolia and the rich pink Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’ and you have the essence of this gorgeous mix.

Peachy dreams

The contemporary urban garden by designer Catherine MacDonald of Landform Consultants was our absolute favourite of the entire show. Catherine swaddled a sunken patio with a peach colour-themed smorgasbord of sumptuous plants, including Achillea ‘Terracotta’, Achillea ‘Walther Funcke’, spiky-flowered Eryngium ‘Jos Eiking’, the grass Anemanthele lessoniana, and the ferny foliage of Selinum wallichianum.

Time-poor planting

Gold-medal-winners Susan Willmott and Adele Ford put together an exquisite seaside garden called Coastal Drift, sponsored by Wyevale East Nurseries. The planting was sublime and one of the best things about it was that you could take the ideas home, install them in your garden and then relax, since most demand very little maintenance. We loved this little gravel pathway planted with houseleeks (Sempervivum), different forms of thyme, and the fabulous diminutive daisies of Erigeron karvinskianus, which will all grow happily in free-draining soils without much fuss.

Classic combo

What could be easier than this simple, elegant combo of white agapanthus set among domes of box topiary and feathery ferns. Chic and sophisticated, this scheme by designers One Abode Limited won them a gold for their efforts. But be warned if you live in a cold spot – agapanthus are not completely hardy so plant them in pots and bring them close to the house or under cover in winter.

Falling for you

This garden, aptly named Falling Leaves and designed by Elizabeth Seymour just blew us away. It was so original and so beautiful, and so deserved the gold awarded. The ivy hanging down was planted in troughs set into this contemporary structure, while that funky tiny-leaved climber scrambling up the rusted steel posts is called Muehlenbeckia complexa – a bit of a mouthful but well worth seeking out.

Colour perfection

Nilufer Danis of Landform Consultants knows her colour theory and put together a rich palette of blues and yellows, a classic design combination, in her garden entitled Our First Home, Our First Garden. Wouldn’t you love her to draw up a scheme for your first home? Or even your second or third, come to that. If you can’t push the budget for a personal consultation with Nilufer, just order the blue spikes of Salvia ‘Ostfriesland’, thistle-like Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’, the pompom-flowered Allium caeruleum ‘Azureum’, and the rich gold Achillea ‘Credo’ to recreate this scheme.

East meets West

The Japanese Reconstruction garden by Makiko Sato was delightful, partly because of designer Makiko, who was so passionate about helping the victims of her devastated homeland, now recovering slowly from the tsunami, and about her plants and flowers. She combined a traditional Japanese gravel garden with this English-inspired shade garden, which surprisingly worked a treat. If you’re after a cool white shady scheme beneath a birch tree, try her mix of Astrantia major ‘White Giant, Geranium ‘Kashmir White’, white hydrangea, and the annuals Ammi majus and cow parsley, which you can grow from seed next spring.

Bring on the butterflies

Bring your garden to life by planting a butterfly haven like the Butterfly Jungles Transitions garden by Paul Allen, Lucy Hughesdon and Lydia Harvey. They selected plants to feed these coveted insects, and it worked – can you see the butterfly on the bright pink phlox in the background here? The other great plants for butterflies and nectar-loving insects shown here are Buddleya davidii, cornflowers, red clover, holly for the holly blue butterfly, marjoram, and scabious.

And if all else fails…

You could simply go for the only ‘no-maintenance’ garden in the show, which raised a few eyebrows when it won a Silver Gilt medal – three cheers for the judges for being so brave. ‘Chaos’ comprised a brick patio and no plants, a first for an RHS flower show. Designed by the king of contemporary gardens, Tony Smith, it brought a wry smile to all those gardeners (or was it just me?) fed up with waterlogged allotments, plagues of slugs and flowers covered with mildew, which we’ve have had to endure this year.

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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert

View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert