I’ve been wanting to go to the Chelsea Flower Show for as long as I can remember but have never managed to fit in a visit - work, kids, being in a different country, forgetting it was on until seeing Monty’s smiling face peering out from one of the gardens on the BBC highlights, you know how it goes.
Until this year. Yes, this year, I finally made it.
A few weeks ago, the planets aligned - as in a kind invitation from Stihl, a day that I was able to clear of work, and Paul being able to do the school runs - and I took the fast train down to London at dawn and was sat in The Orange in Belgravia eating brunch by mid-morning.
I was lucky enough to have been invited to the show by STIHL, the leading manufacturer of garden power tools. For the second year running, STIHL were the official sponsors of the Hillier garden and kindly offered to give a small group of us an exclusive tour of their beautiful space and also the show as a whole.
Walking around, camera in hand, here are my four favourite trends from RHS Chelsea Flower Show that I want to try to incorporate in to my own garden:
Traditional meets contemporary
First up, obviously, the Stihl Hiller Garden. The balance between the more traditional cottage garden feel of the planting combined with the contemporary materials used to create the walkways and water features was perfection. Despite the crowds, it felt like an oasis of calm. We spent close to an hour admiring our surroundings and chatting to designer, Lilly Gomm, and not once did I notice the hundreds of people on the outside taking photos and looking in. Full credit to Lilly and the Hillier team for creating a beautiful, practical and secluded garden.
Read more about the STIHL Hillier garden.
While I live in a semi-rural location, I really loved the Manchester Garden, designed to showcase the potential of a green space in the heart of an industrialised landscape. The formal structures combined with the slighter wilder feel of the planting was so unexpected and really intriguing. And I will never not condone the use of ferns in a garden - they’re one of my favourites - particularly when paired with purple iris.
I’m not sure whether the hexagonal tiles were a nod to the bee being the symbol of Manchester or not, but they were a great choice for the garden and looked fantastic - very different to anything I’ve seen before. What do you think?
A nod to the coast
A surprising hit of the show was the Facebook Garden, entitled ‘Beyond the Screen’. I’ll be honest, I didn’t buy in to the blurb:
“The coastal themed garden uses the natural connectivity of water and the ocean to represent the interconnectivity between our online and offline lives, and the interactions, social change and opportunities that social media helps facilitate across the world.”
I don’t know what it says about me but I was more won over by the fact that it had a mini wave machine. The whoosh of the water every few seconds was an absolute delight to hear. I was also surprised about how much of a coastal vibe they were able to achieve in the heart of London. I left with plans to find a corner of my garden to transform in a similar way.
The potting shed of dreams
I’m not going to lie, I almost squealed with delight when we turned the corner and spotted the Alitex greenhouses. Colour in abundance, styled to perfection by Selina Lake and completely and utterly magical. They were like stepping in to another world.
While we might not be able to afford similar structures in the near future, the greenhouses offered so much in terms of inspiration for outdoor living and entertaining. Why do we save our best decor efforts for inside our homes? The weather, possibly, yes but I’m determined to up my game in the garden, from here on in.
Read more about the Selina Lake for Alitex greenhouses.
What do you think? Inspired by any of my favourite gardens? Did you visit the flower show yourself? Which gardens caught your eye? Do let me know!