5 High Fashion Garden Ideas from the Chelsea Flower Show

August 3, 2023

High fashion Planting Inspiration from Chelsea Flower show 2012 by Rochelle Greayer - Grasses, Silver Orange and Purple
One of many beautifully executed plant displays at Chelsea flower show 2012.

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 and sedges (like Carex ‘comans bronze’ and 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.

Fashion garden fish swimming in the grass by rochelle greayer at chelsea flower show 2012
Metal fish swim through long grass in a garden in Chelsea.

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.

fashionable Panama hats for sale a chelsea flower show 2012 by Rochelle Greayer
Chelsea flower show fashion always includes stylish Panama hats, wellies, and a Pimms cup.

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.

Strawberries growing vertically at chlesea Flower show 2012 by Rochelle Greayer
The Ken Muir strawberries are always a favorite display. I love the abundance, the smell and how strawberries can, when displayed well, become awe inspiring.

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 mcvicars herb garden stand at chelsea flower show 2012 by Rochelle Greayer

Beautiful Herbs

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!

jekka mcvicars herb garden stand at chelsea flower show 2012 by Rochelle Greayer
Flower show ideas for planting lots of colorful herbs.

images: rochelle greayer

Other fashionable garden posts you might be interested in:

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  1. Delphine says:

    great ! i’m so happy for you, i whish you lot of fun, my dear friend !

  2. Nice work. All of your photograph away-sum. I think you are a great photographer.

  3. Tammy says:

    Inquiring minds want to know where you got the fish!


  4. Britt says:

    It looks like your grasses/sedges classification is mixed up in the first paragraph. Sedges = Carex sp.
    Beautiful designs though! Thanks for sharing

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