Outdoor space may be at a premium for London’s homeowners, but the 2018 bloomfest was brimming with inspiration for how to make the most of what you’ve got.
Green and Boring
If your outdoor space is lacklustre, add colour — 2018 is the year vivid shades came back to Chelsea. Huge, riotous beds of colour designed by Nic Howard were perfect pairing for David Harber’s sculptures in the David Harber & Savills Garden. Use lupins, foxgloves, salvia Mainacht and irises for spiky height — designer Jo Thompson chose Kent Pride and Carnival Time — with geums and poppies for accents, and Anchusa azurea Dropmore for calming blue.
Designer David Neale gave the walls of his Silent Pool Gin Garden a luxe feel using DesignClad Steel Corten porcelain tiles with a metallic finish (from £82.50 each plus VAT; londonstone.co.uk). These large porcelain tiles offer a quick fix for an ugly wall and you only need a few. They can be cut to fit.
If you find bricks and other builders’ junk in your borders, adapt your planting. The Mediterranean earth of Sarah Price’s M&G Garden used plants that thrive in poor, sunbaked soils. Pack the beds with annual poppies, yellow flowered fennel, white asphodelus albus, dianthus carthusianorum and chartreuse euphorbia cyparissias along with santolina and cistus shrubs. Try bethchatto.co.uk for plants.
Big-leaved exotics create shelter from noise and heat. The Spirit of Cornwall Garden used dramatic foliage plants for a lush retreat.
People with small gardens think they don’t have space for a tree but see how many they pack into tiny show gardens. This year the designers went all out at Chelsea with flowering multistems that make a fabulous focal point.
Try cornus kousa, enkianthus, heptacodium or the snowbell tree styrax japonicus.
Banish patio puddles by taking a cue from Tony Woods’ Gold-winning Urban Flow Garden with its dark grey Van de Moortel clay pavers, laid on to sand unmortared so rain seeps down.
Or put pea shingle or Cotswold chippings on compacted type 1 compost — just don’t lay it too deep (50mm max) or you’ll wade through it.
Too Much Shade
Shade is in the spotlight. Chris Beardshaw’s Best in Show woodland-style Morgan Stanley Garden and Tom Stuart-Smith’s forest glade featured podophyllum with large umbrella leaves.
Nowhere to Sit
Garden seating can be an art form and Chelsea had plenty of chairs to show off.
Space at a Premium
When space is tight, go up. Tom Massey’s Lemon Tree Trust Garden used catering tins hung with S-hooks on rusted builders’ reinforcement mesh on the wall, overflowing with flowers, tomatoes, chillis, salad and herbs.