Captivating Chelsea

Captivating Chelsea

Red and white rambler roses over a gothic arch at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Let Chelsea Flower Show inspire you to enjoy your outdoor space

It’s that time of year again, the thought of over-dosing on gardening (if that’s possible), which is the Chelsea Flower Show, keeps us going through the long dreary winter. It keeps us glued to the TV when really we should be outdoors enjoying the late spring sunshine and doing something vaguely active. It turns most of us green with envy at the thought of possessing one of the show gardens. It makes us abandon common sense to the wind and splash out on more new plants, which I for one don’t have space for but buy anyway! It shows us new and exotic plants we never knew existed let alone could grow in a British garden. And if we’re really lucky some of us even manage to visit and soak up the wonderful atmosphere of heady scents and eye-popping colour.

Digitalis 'Dalmation Peach'

Digitalis 'Dalmation Peach'

We can all take something of Chelsea, scale it down and adapt it for our own gardens; unless we have a spare half acre and quarter of a million pounds to re-create one of the large show gardens. The smaller artisan and fresh gardens are usually more within the reach of us wage slaves with little time to spare. They usually incorporate an ingenious idea to allow us to cram in even more plants or create a focal point without using the usual garden seat or statue.

Driftwood hare statue at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Poppies at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Many of the gardens this year focused on health issues, both mental and physical. The style of the gardens were over-whelmingly loose and naturalistic. Bearded iris and grasses featured in a lot of the show gardens, along with cultivated forms of wild flowers.

Grasses at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Bearded iris in a naturalistic garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Outdoor furniture and garden structures can really make your garden another living space; a three sided gazebo covered with climbing, scented roses and clematis, a comfy chair and loads of cushions can make a cosy private space in which to be creative or just chill out. If you enjoy entertaining family and friends then the world is your oyster when it comes to dining sets and barbecues; there are literally hundreds from which to choose. There are compact 4 seater dining sets for a small garden or you can really push the boat out and splash out on a contemporary 12 seater to really get into the entertaining spirit. Similarly barbecues range from the small basic models suitable for a family of 4 to a top of the range Weber Summit which have lots of extra features, making gourmet barbecue cooking for a large party a doddle.

Erigeron karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus as featured in 'God's own County - A Garden for Yorkshire'

If you have a garden with a large tree why not invest in a bespoke tree house to stimulate the children’s imagination and keep them entertained for hours; and give them plenty of exercise climbing up and down the steps! Just check first with the neighbours and the planning department of your local council to make sure you don’t fall foul of the law or upset the neighbours.

Bespoke tree house at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Don’t forget the stars of the show, the plants. There are literally thousands to choose from, every colour, every size, for every aspect and for all levels of ability. It doesn’t matter if you have acres or just a windowsill, plants can transform your living space and enhance your well-being. The majority of the large show gardens this year seem to feature loose, mixed planting rather than the stiff, formal style which was popular a few years ago. The dark blue Nigella damasceneOxford Blue’ looks stunning against the pale bark of the Betula (Birch) trees in the ‘Hartley Botanic Garden’ designed by Catherine MacDonald; earning them a Silver-Gilt medal. This garden shows how easy it is to combine a contemporary designed glasshouse with a loose English Cottage Garden style of planting.

Polygonatum multiflorum

Polygonatum multiflorum as featured in Dermot Gavin's 'Harrods British Eccentrics Garden'

Andy Sturgeon’s garden for ‘The Telegraph’ combines modern sculptural pieces of metal and stone also combined with loose, natural planting to represent the primeval forces which have shaped our landscape. This combination has earned him a Gold medal. Our Medieval past has inspired Matthew Wilson’s Silver award winning ‘God’s own County – A Garden for Yorkshire’; again combining a modern take on the stained glass of York Minster combined with soft, informal planting. 

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.