Five ideas to take home from RHS Chelsea 2018

Ideas are great, especially when you can adapt them to fit your budget, situation and dreams. At this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show there are ideas aplenty wherever you look. Here are five you could take home and recreate in your own way in your garden.


Create some ornamental shade with screens
Image: Jean Vernon

We don’t often have a long hot summer when all we crave is a bit of shade, but this year’s early summer has brought some unrivalled sunshine to our plots. You can create garden shade in all sorts of ways, but these linked sails envelope the space below, creating a cooler feel and a party atmosphere. You could make your own from suitable fabric or join shade sails together to fit your space. Or commission something from

Wall planting

Any container can contain plants, these concrete blocks are perfect
Image: Jean Vernon

Most gardeners would admit that their borders are full of plants, but we often forget that the vertical surfaces can be planted too. There are lots of great examples of this at this year’s RHS Chelsea. On the Lemon Tree Trust Garden an Innovation wall is filled with everyday objects like tin cans and plastic bottles and then re-purposed to grow plants. But there are also concrete block planters adding additional nooks and crannies for planting within a concrete block wall.


Use screens in stacks to create a see through barrier
Image: Jean Vernon

We all use panels, trellis and screens in our gardens in different ways, but the use of contemporary art within the David Harber and Savills Garden shows an alternative way to screen using layers of two dimensional screens set at right angles to the view. The stack of screens is shaped to create a more organic barrier that allows views into the space but at the same time provides an element of privacy and intrigue. You could recreate the effect using scaffolding boards, trellis screens or even driftwood.


Make more of a space by introducing steps and levels to display plants and flowers
Image: Jean Vernon

Sometime looking at a space with fresh eyes can give you different ideas. You might think that there is room for half a dozen plants in a small area, but what if you were to install decorative ironwork steps within that space, leading up to a wall or a fence area? It would allow you to make use of every level as a place for potted plants, vases of flowers or decorative items. It’s a perfect trick for small gardens, balconies and terraces. You could even use an old set of wooden ladders or something more elaborate to create the same effect.

Dark highlights

Blackened stems add rich and surprising highlights to planting

Black is a colour that doesn’t feature much in our gardens, but one garden at RHS Chelsea 2018 used the burnt stems of plants as a highlighting effect within its borders. The Trailfinders: A South African Wine Estate garden features fire adapted vegetation that requires regular burning to survive. It’s a stunning effect, underplanted with bright colourful bulbs, seedlings and fresh grasses within the blackened remains of the older vegetation. I don’t suggest you set fire to your garden, but you could paint a few small branches black and ‘plant’ them in the garden for a similar effect.


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