7 great ideas for small gardens from RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2013

It’s showtime at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2013 and this year’s serving of stylish garden designs is packed with ideas for small plots. So, if Chelsea inspired you but your garden size and budget are squeezed, this is the show for you – and tickets are still available until this Sunday. We popped down early to bring you a sneaky peak of the best ideas to take home...

1. Suspend your chairs

A gold medal winner and voted the best Low Cost High Impact garden, this retro 1950s design by Adele Ford and Susan Willmott (above) was stylish, sophisticated and sizzling with the hot colours that are currently enjoying a revival in the home and on the catwalk. The suspended acrylic chairs are to die for, and the perfect seating solution for a tiny urban courtyard.

2. Plant up your old freezers and fridges

We loved this wacky design by Caroline Tait and John Esling (below), which showed how to upcycle your old fridges and freezers by filling them with flowers and piling them in your garden. The designers were apparently inspired by the mountains of old fridges they saw dumped at the tip.

3. Cool and shady

Stephen A Ryan’s ‘August 1963 – I have a Dream’ garden was a celebration of the progress made in race equality since Martin Luther King delivered his  famous speech in Washington DC 50 years ago. As well as a worthy message, the garden included a cool fusion of the most beautiful black and white planting, with shade-loving hostas, foxgloves, hydrangeas, ajugas and arum lilies blending together in perfect harmony.

4. Weave stepping stones through your borders

Like the judges, who awarded Mike Harvey a gold medal for his ‘A Room with a View’ garden, we loved the natural materials in this design. In particular, the reclaimed sculpted sleeper stepping stones took our fancy and any one with a sloping border could just slot them in to add a practical yet eye-catching feature.

5. Reflect light with mirrors

Mirrors in gardens can be utterly naff or work brilliantly, and this clever idea by Heather Appleton in the ‘QEF Garden for Joy’ was definitely in the second category. By installing mirrors beneath a seat, you immediately make the space appear larger and lighter, and it’s an easy idea to copy at home.

6. Create a mini woodland

We’re always looking for ways to bring birds into our gardens at ACHICA, and a small woodland will provide the perfect home for them. David Sarton’s evocative gold medal winning design also shows that you can achieve this effect in just a few square metres with a three or four slender Amelanchier, which are beautiful trees for tiny spaces.

7. Hedge your bets

If chic and sophisticated is the style you’re looking for, you’ll love the ‘Layers and Links’ design by Raine Clarke-Wills, with its sleek stone bench and this fabulous tiled table set into a low hedge. And this inspired idea is easy to replicate at home by simply planting a few low-growing box plants in a rectangle and setting your table inside. Clip the hedge two or three times a year from May to August to maintain the look.

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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert

View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert