Flower shows are a great way to glean ideas and inspiration for your own garden. Covid-19 closed, cancelled and postponed many garden events in 2020 and though some, like Hampton Court Palace 2021 are tentatively opening their gates this year, if you haven’t got tickets or aren’t ready to brave the crowds, here are some highlights that we have really loved from past shows.
There is no doubt that beautifully planted borders create the wow factor. Whether its contrasting colours or tapestries of softer hues, garden designers use plants as their paint. You can alter the mood, ambience and look of the garden not just with colour, but also with texture, shape, density, foliage, stems and even bark. Plants hold the power in most gardens, because they can be easily changed around to suit your situation and your needs. You can spend a fortune on a few choice plants, or budget your spend by buying plug plants mail order to enhance your beds, borders and planters. One of our favourite Hampton Court Gardens was in 2018 in the Dibond Garden/Apeiron. This textured mix of Ammi majus, veronicastrum, alliums, cornflowers, verbena, scabious and a mix of exquisite botanics create a soft and beautiful dreamscape for pollinators and people.
We are constantly advised to take the home out into the garden, but it can be a challenge. Our great British weather does reflect on the way we use our gardens. But make a corner into a seating area. If you’ve room for a table and chairs, it quickly becomes a spontaneous dining space, or even an outdoor office. Unless you put a roof over the area, it is susceptible to the wind and rain, so add a parasol or a sail that will provide a little protection. You can make your own using a piece of canvas and some eyelets or even an old hammock strung above your space. The Year of Green Action Garden in 2019 demonstrated this perfectly. Designed by Helen J Rosevear and Jane Stoneham.
You don’t have to make a pond or a fountain feature to add water to your garden. Even a shallow bowl of water can add this essential element to your space. Float some flower heads in the water and use it as a table centerpiece or use a larger pot (without drainage) to create a floral focal point of your floating flowers.
On Katie’s Garden, in 2016 there was a beautiful display of floating pink dahlia heads within the main rusted water feature.
Even a small balcony, terrace or garden has boundaries. These might be a fence, wall or trellis, but all of these have great potential for embellishing your plot. You could add a splash of colour by using paint. Hang some garden wall art or a clock. Add a palette planter or hang some wall baskets and plant them up. We loved this idea from Hampton Court 2016, the lovely Katie’s Garden (HC692). These little wooden crates have been attached to the fence and contain a variety of decorative items. Pine cones. Jugs of flowers. Glass bottles. Balls of string. They make lovely open cupboards and could be used to display little potted plants or anything you choose.
Making a garden appropriate for all ages can be a challenge. Children can be interested in different aspects of the plot in different ways. Maybe it’s their playground, where they create adventures in the long grass and borders. Or do they love to make mud pies and castles in the soil. Maybe they have made friends with the mini beasts in the garden? Or perhaps they just love to make daisy chains and pick flowers for their favourite adult? Gardens enhance our physical and mental wellbeing, whatever our age, so engaging children in the garden and helping them to connect with nature is a really valuable thing to do.
The Year of Green Action Show garden at Hampton Court 2019 had some lovely ideas in this garden, designed to appeal to all the senses and especially for children. One of the popular features was the wildlife tower, designed to provide shelter and nesting space for all manner of creatures, with cool stacked tiles at the base for amphibians, beetles and invertebrates to crawl in for shelter and a variety of natural nesting materials throughout and topped with a productive planter, the towers provide an attractive garden feature that is interactive, practical and inspired.