Garden Design Inspiration: 8 Clever Ideas From the Chelsea Flower Show

May 27, 2011

winds of change garden chelsea flower show

Hashing through the images from the Chelsea Flower Show, I continue to pick up on trends…..(which I will share in another post) and some great little ideas that spark my imagination.   What little things are peaking you interest?  Here is my top 10 list of little ideas that will lead to more interesting things in the gardens that I plan.

jamie dunstan garden water feature rain water collection

1) The rain gutter that travels away from the building before dropping into the more interesting cistern. Certainly if we are going to collect rainwater, we can come up with interesting ways to capture it as well as store it right?   Rain capture seems like fertile fodder for design inspiration and Jamie Dunstan’s wind turbine garden certainly has my wheels turning.   Why do gutters always boringly run down the sides of the house? Why can’t they travel out away and do fantastically interesting things along the route?  Maybe the water can be slowed allowing flow to continue far beyond the actual rain event…..maybe to make the garden a uniquely special experience immediately after a storm.   Maybe the water can power something….

2) Gym Wood Flooring. Reuse is a strong trend throughout the show, but Jamie’s wind turbine garden inspires me to think about a few new sources for materials.  The door on the garden building is from a prison vault (not not the kind of bad juju I want in my garden but as an arguably interesting piece, I like it).  But even better is the gym flooring that was reused as fencing and flooring in the garden building.  I love the patterns created from the basketball court lines that are on the pieces.

3) The Hae-Woo-So (Empty your mind) Garden (which is an outhouse (yes, in the potty sense) garden) makes me feel a little shameful about my typical ability to be amused with toilet humor.  Watch this video of the designer talking about the garden and see what I mean.   I learned a bit about Korean culture and I will never look at a toilet or a garden quite the same way again.

horizontally pleached trees

4) Horizontal Pleaching. Is that what it is called? I am not sure, but I like it.   According to the planting list for the B&Q garden there are two types of trees in this garden; Tilia europaea ‘Pallida’ (which is the more common tree for vertical pleaching) and  Morus platanifolia which is what I think is being used to make these completely cool tree canopies.  Morus platanifolia (Mulberry) is hardy to zone 5b so most of us can try to do this.

irish sky garden diarmuid gavin

5) Floating racecar paths. I can take leave of the flying contraption of Diarmuid Gavin’s Irish Sky Garden but the paths and the ponds below really excite me.  I am trying to sort out what the materials  for the paths are and if they are practically build-able (steel? hmmm…).  What is so appealing me is the way that the movement through the garden hovers slightly above, is razor thin, and flows like a racetrack.   I imagine standing on a path like this and immediately feeling an overwhelming urge to throw my arms out to the side and run through the space like an airplane.

parsnips for garden planting

6) Edibles in the Garden .  Yes, I am well aware of the trendiness of this subject….but the Parsnips in Cleve West’s garden are beyond what I normally think of for use in planting schemes.  They are stunning and even if they are never eaten, I think their looks earn a place in my garden.  They have been added to my mental list of plants to use.

nigel dunnett garden walls for insect house

7) Insect Walls have certainly gone mainstream.  Seems like just the other day I was writing about them here….and now there are featured in at least four  different displays at Chelsea.  Nigel Dunnett’s Rock wall with built in insect housing and succulent planters on top, are really the cream of the crop.

recycled rebar fence

8) Recycled Rebar Fencing in the DeakinLock Garden.  I am not in love with the posts — I think would want them more natural and maybe unpainted, but I love the idea and think that rebar is totally urban recycler cool.

I’m still perusing details…did you see anything that was super interesting that you want to share?

images from RHS, BBC, the teak door, hozelock, and edp24.

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  1. Tim Lee says:

    inspiring -Thank you!

  2. Noah Dyer says:

    Lot’s of things here we don’t typically do in Arizona, but I love the whimsical rainfall collection idea 🙂

  3. Kaveh says:

    I wrote about Nigel Dunnetts insect walls on my blog yesterday. It was definitely my favorite of all the gardens I saw but I was actually surprised in that there weren’t any gardens I didn’t like. I need to take the time to read up on some of the other gardens and take another look at the photos I took but I went through 3 cameras and took over 800 photos so it is going to take a while.

    Chelsea is definitely worth visiting in person for anyone who loves gardens.

  4. laguna dirt says:

    first time i’ve heard of an insect wall. sure looks cool! now i need to go back and read your original post on them! way to be ahead of the garden trend pack, as usual!

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