Home Comment RHS Chelsea 2019: Key trends to try in your garden

RHS Chelsea 2019: Key trends to try in your garden

The Greenfingers Charity Garden by Kate Gould. Picture; RHS/Neil Hepworth
The Greenfingers Charity Garden by Kate Gould. Picture; RHS/Neil Hepworth

Go green in more ways than one

RHS Chelsea is over but with so many trends to take in and reflect on, I’ve invited Nicky Roeber, the Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres to review the show. Here, he discusses the top ideas from the show and easy ways you can incorporate these into your garden.

Nicky Roeber. Picture; Wyevale Garden Centres
Nicky Roeber. Picture; Wyevale Garden Centres

The Chelsea Flower Show is the biggest gardening event for many people, whether you are already an avid gardener or not, with hundreds of thousands of visitors heading to it each year to seek inspiration for their own outdoor space.

The show is famed for its beautiful and expensive garden displays, but don’t let this put you off trying to create them for yourself!

Here, I will share some of the top trends from this year’s show and explain how you can easily and affordably incorporate them into your own garden, no matter how big or small it is.

The Greenfingers Charity Garden by Kate Gould. Picture; RHS/Neil Hepworth
The Greenfingers Charity Garden by Kate Gould. Picture; RHS/Neil Hepworth

Go green

The most noticeable and visually dramatic trend was not what was added, but what was taken away: many gardens dialled down on colour, flowers were replaced with textural and attractive foliage in a myriad of different greens.

With the focus on this luscious emerald foliage, it was hard to miss the presence of euphorbias and the rare evergreen tree, Trochodendron aralioides. This all fed into the wild, native plant trend that the bulk of the show seemed to be celebrating.

There were even displays that added touches of green in other inventive ways, with The Greenfingers charity garden using tiles to create a fresh and uplifting space.

Try it for yourself by planting green versions of your favourite flowers: hydrangeas, carnations and orchids all come in this hue and will look beautiful wherever you use them.

For extra points, I’d also recommend adding a feature wall using easy-to-grow climbing plants like native ivies or Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus henryana), which will tick both the greenery and wild nature trend boxes.

The pathside border - Fatsia japonica variegata, bamboo Fargesia Pingwu, hostas, foxgloves, Rheum
Mandy’s path border – Fatsia japonica variegata, bamboo Fargesia Pingwu, hostas, foxgloves, Rheum, Campanula, Photinia Pink Crispy, golden marjoram

Use flowers sparingly

With a majority of the gardens focusing on greenery, it won’t come as a surprise that flowers were less prevalent.

While no summer garden is complete with at least a minor pop of colour, the take-home message for the upcoming sunny season was to use blooms sparingly and to keep them simple.

Flowers were used to great effect, breaking up the greenery and adding striking eye-catching detail, beautifully placed in sweeping drifts to guide the visitor’s eye through the garden.

The blooms featured were often unlikely combinations, such as viper’s grass (Echium russicum) and perennial flax (Linum perenne) — perfectly placed to offer a contrast of candy colours against the rolling greenery.

Similarly, we saw borage blooms sporadically paired with ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) for a rugged aesthetic that celebrates nature for all it is; imperfectly perfect.

Using planters filled with flowering plants is an easy way to add a dash of colour to shrubbery and greenery and can be done on even the smallest of budgets.

Rhus typhina
Stag’s horn sumach autumn foliage

Be inventive with your trees

Despite its name, the Chelsea Flower Show shares inspiration for all aspects of your garden, including the trees you should introduce. For 2019, the stiff, leathery leaves and spiral arrangements of Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle) made them the star of the show for many displays.

With Chelsea seldom seeing trees this large, it’s no surprise that they made one of the biggest and best trends to date.

If you don’t have the space to accommodate such large trees, try adding something like a stag’s horn sumach (Rhus typhinus Dissecta) to bring structure to your garden.

Its gorgeous autumn display given by its red leaves and striking conical fruits also makes it great for attracting bees to your garden; another theme that was central to the show this year.

The Camfed Garden Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow by Jilayne Richards. Picture RHS/Sarah Cuttle
The Camfed Garden Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow by Jilayne Richards. Picture RHS/Sarah Cuttle

Make it sustainable

The Chelsea displays continued the now well-established trend for ecological sustainability with some designers using more environmentally-friendly machinery and construction methods instead of traditional diesel engines.

When it came to the actual planting, many creators focused on using recycled and reclaimed plant pots, planters and raised bed systems, with the Campaign for Female Education garden even creating a bed system from reclaimed brick and a rubble-filled reservoir to make a growing process that could work anywhere.

If you’re looking for sustainable ways to garden this year, try building your own planters from wooden planks. All you’ll need is some old fence boards and a few basic tools — this tutorial from Cottage Life shows how quick and hassle-free it can be!

Alternatively, transform the kids’ old tyre swing into mini raised beds or stack multiple tyres on top of each other to create a DIY compost bin.

If you have some plastic punnets or takeaway containers lying around, you can also turn these upside down to make mini propagator lids — these will be perfect, especially if they already have the ventilation holes punched in.

Give your garden a summer overhaul and try one of these trends spotted at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Whether you want to keep your garden pared down with simple and sporadic flower displays, or you want to move towards sustainability, all of these trends can be done easily and affordably. Happy gardening!

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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