The gardening and horticulture world is in full swing at this time of year. We were watching the events at RHS Chelsea, the inaugural RHS Chatsworth and BBC Gardener’s World with eager excitement and we liked what we saw. As RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is this week (4th – 9th July), we are thrilled to recap some of the key themes of this years’ best-loved gardening shows.
One of the main themes addressed this year has been how we can continue to love and enjoy our green, outdoor space whilst living busy, fast-moving lives in the heart of an ever-growing city landscape.
Possibly our favourite garden of RHS Chelsea Flower Show, was RHS Greening Grey Britain, an un-judged show feature designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett. It showed us exactly how ‘urban gardening’ can not only exist, but thrive in a built-up, otherwise monotone cityscape.
The RHS’s Greening Grey Britain campaign was launched following research commissioned by the RHS, which suggested that three times as many people are choosing to pave over their front gardens compared with ten years ago.
As a response to this worrying trend, the RHS launched Greening Grey Britain, a campaign which urges people to transform a grey part of their property by planting shrubs, bedding plants or even just a window box, container or hanging basket, to bring a little colour back to an otherwise grey space. Even bringing a handful of plants into a paved front yard will provide food and shelter for all sorts of garden wildlife.
The RHS Greening Grey Britain garden at Chelsea featured creative elements which demonstrated how to make the most of small garden space and balconies, with solutions for storing bikes and recycling bins, as well as choosing plants which soak up pollution. We particularly liked this attention to detail, and the imagination to fill the space with so many environmentally-conscious aspects, including a special wetland area designed to combat flash flooding.
It is fascinating to see the way the designer had carefully managed to strike the balance between the need for practicality in the garden and the equal need to create an aesthetically-pleasing green space. Finding a harmonious equilibrium between these two aspects is something gardeners across the country can learn and take inspiration from!
Other notable gardens at Chelsea included the Mind Trap Garden sponsored by idverde and designed by Ian Price, that featured four metal walls which created a deliberate barrier between the garden’s inner and outer sections. It also allowed for different planting, the inner garden contained plants that preferred shady conditions, whilst the outer garden featured flowers and plants that thrive in full sunshine.
To celebrate gardens which uplift the senses and encourage people to lose themselves in gardening, Radio 2 showcased five gardens at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Our favourite was the Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, designed by Matt Keightley, that used an interesting mix of landscaping and clever planting choices to create as many different features, textures and surfaces as possible. It included a small water pond, with a smooth pathway over the top.
Image: RHS/Sarah Cuttle
The garden used different heights as well, with steps leading down to small area with rounded stones on which to sit. The main feature, in our opinion, was the angular wall towards the back, which stood in contrast next to neatly clipped, feathery hedges and velvety mosses. For a relatively small plot, it was great to see how much had been included and still managed to maintain a tranquil environment.
The flower shows reinforce every year the fact that gardens, both private and public, can be so much more than a rectangular lawn with borders around the edge. Creative landscaping knows no limit, and we can adapt and create more and more innovative solutions to make sure green spaces, large and small, always have a place in modern Britain.