My days here at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show are so full! Yesterday I spent the morning in a garden identifying (as best I could) British weeds as part of a forest gardening/ permaculture design course, and then I spent the afternoon at Chelsea’s final build-up day. Today is press day at the show and I took over 400 images as I wandered amongst the hustle and bustle of the show construction. I am sorting and prepping them just as fast as I can, but here is a quick taste of what I think is in fashion (according to the Chelsea Flower Show) in gardening.
Mixed Meadow-like Planting
This beautiful display (above) uses a variety of grasses (like Carex ‘comans bronze’ and at least one Sedge – Acorus gramineus, I’m guessing). There is also Artemisia (the silver leaves), Geum (the orange flowers), Salvia (caradonna, I think), Bronze Fennel, Allium (the purple balls), and perhaps a dark leaved penstemon (not 100% sure on that one – but think that is what the dark purple is).
You can try and slavishly recreate a beautiful planting like this, but I find it better to break it down into categories – kind of like a cook would create an adjustable recipe.
For example, here would be the planting recipe for the garden above:
- two different grasses,
- a silver leaved plant,
- two contrasting-colored blooms (with airy stems that hold blooms above all the foliage),
- another textural leaved plant and
- a dark-leaved plant.
Setting it out in this way, you can more easily customize it to something that you can grow in your own region and in your own garden.
Plants That Interact with Art create a high-fashion garden moment
Pretty pewter fish swimming through grass is charming, no doubt. But how do you make this idea your own? Think about ways that your own garden art can sit with plants and landscapes around it. Look for ways to add whimsy and charm, or maybe you can start to tell a story with the design.
Stylish Garden Gear – particularly with garden hats
Personally, I find big floppy sun hats hats to be a nuisance when I am getting dirty in the garden. And bucket hats make me feel like a dope. Neither option has the je ne sais quoi of a jauntier, more fashionable garden hat. Well-made Panama hats are my personal choice for garden fashion.
Epic Fruits & Vegetables
Using produce as a beautiful garden feature, rather than as just a utilitarian means to fill your stomach, is an idea I fully embrace. The strawberry display in the Chelsea Pavilion is always a feast for the senses. The grower (Ken Muir) always fully fills their booth with strawberries. And when I say fully, I mean this is a full-on strawberry jungle extravaganza. They grow in arches, buckets, overhead, and in just about every direction you can imagine. And the smell is heaven. This is a strawberry pot on steroids, and why not? This is Chelsea, after all.
Garden Design Tip: If you don’t like strawberries, consider other ways that you can use beautiful vegetables and fruiting plants as features and eye-catching elements. Plant them outside of the vegetable patch and celebrate their beauty. The function can be fashionable when it is seen through a different lens. Maybe it is rhubarb in pots so you can enjoy the big leaves, or okra planted for its hibiscus flowers, or amaranthus because who wouldn’t want curtains of ropey red drama in your garden?
Jekka McVicar is a tremendous resource for growing a wide variety of herbs and using them in delicious food. Her display at the show inspires me to think of herbs as showy options for a beautiful garden. From prehistoric looking cardoons and calendula (image above) to blue borage flowers, chives, dill, nigella and nasturtiums (below). The herb garden never looked so exciting!
images: rochelle greayer
Other fashionable garden posts you might be interested in: