The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is so wonderfully inspiring, and a great place to collect a scrapbook of ideas. Now that the show is over, here are five that you can steal for your own garden.
1. Limit your colour palette
One of the biggest mistakes that gardeners make is planting too many different plants with too many different colours in a small space. Effective gardens are ones where the colours work together. You wouldn’t wear ten different colours in one outfit (unless you’re a certain type of eccentric person), and neither should your garden.
This garden has just three main bold colours: the yellow mignonette, the pale stone, and the bright green chairs.
Similarly this garden lets the green do the talking, with little white highlights. There are so many greens, most of them light and bright in one way or another.
2. Match your furniture and structures to your planting
Joe Swift’s garden took me completely by surprise this year. It wasn’t just that he had chosen the richest, warmest irises and verbascums for his planting scheme, but that he’d used that same reddish rich colour in the wood to make the rather fetching pergola. It’s clever and can be copied easily in a garden. Pink chairs? Plant a few flowers of the same colour around the plot to draw the whole thing together.
3. Use colour accents
Limiting your palette does not mean that you should stick to colours from just one group in your garden. Why not use complimentary colours, or contrast a warm colour against softer, more thoughtful plantings?
That use of a bright, warm colour is perfectly shown in Cleve West’s rightly champion garden. There are so many clever things about this design, but the one that got the visitors kneeling down and peering as close as they could was the decision to plant bright and bold ladybird poppies amongst soft purple drifts of flowers.
4. Create a hiding place
I was less excited by Diarmuid Gavin’s enormous erection, so to speak, than I was by what was inside the tower itself. It was a wonderful leafy paradise with the most secret of all secret sitting places for someone to sneak to. Every garden needs one, hidden behind climbers and ferns.
Even better was the beautiful caravan at the end of the beautifully-planted garden designed by Jo Thompson for the Caravan Club. As you know, I adore anything vaguely raffish, and this was the best hideout I could ever concoct in my imagination. I wish I could put a secret caravan on my balcony.
5. Light up your world
The M&G garden was a lovely one, but it wasn’t one that set my imagination on fire until I saw it at dusk after quaffing a couple of glasses of champagne at an after-hours RHS party. The lights in the walls and on the sculptures changed the whole thing. If only everyone could see them.