Visiting Chelsea is always the highlight of the year for me. There is of course the element of posh gardens and posh people and trying to emulate a certain look. But for me it’s a place where the horticultural greats in the plant world come together to share their passion and it’s not about keeping up with the Joneses but more about gathering ideas and tips to use in your own garden.
Chelsea on a very hot week and with lots of people wearing hats...
Chelsea is a source of inspiration. You look at details in a show garden and think how can I apply something like that in a design or in my own garden. I look at the plant combination and immediately start to plot and plan a new planting combination – will this grow in my soil, will this flourish and enhance the look. How easy is it to look after the plant – a question my clients always ask.
I particularly like the Great Pavilion where I can always find an amazing array of textures, scents, form and colour – I pick up all the bursary catalogues and then go back to the office to pour over them and think of new planting designs.
Andy Sturgeon’s garden.
First and foremost, right plant right place, secondly gardens do not happen overnight - Chelsea is a show garden and everything looks effortless – it hides the fact that these gardens were put together 12 months to 24 months ago, plants were specially grown for the gardens and even nurseries showing off their new plants have worked years to bring out a particular show stopper. Gardens do not abide by our timelines but are governed by seasons, by temperature, by science. A garden takes time – probably the only think one cannot hurry in this day and age!
So here are few things I picked out – some interesting plants, some landscaping ideas, details that can be tweaked to suit a smaller garden and photos to inspire you.
Hostas are great for texture and form for ground cover – mostly shade with moist soil.
Hostas come in myriad greens.
Primula Viallii - stunning upright plant and would look great amidst a sea of Euphorbias and Hostas.
Euphorbias and ornamental onion with a dash of red poppy.
Arne Maynard garden – look at details of a show garden to then re-use in your own. Here a water rill is lined with pebbles giving texture and tonal colours.
Arne Maynard detail of levels – important to have differences in levels not just in hard landscaping but plants too.
RBS Blue Water Garden by Nigel Dunnett – here the multi-stemmed trees are under-planted with fluffy flowers to give an integrated and balanced planting.
RBS Blue Water Garden by Nigel Dunnett – same garden and this time looking at the colour palette. The white walls are foils to the meadow planting and the orange flowers ping in the sun.
Don't forget herbs and salads can also look ornamental.
Hedge Euphorbia – weird finger-like Euphorbia I had never seen before.
Aquilegia vulgaris Munstead White would look stunning amongst lime green foliage.
Aquilegia chrisantha – again would look great with ground hugging plants like Alchemilla mollis perhaps.
And to finish off – just a lovely picture of a lovely garden. One of my favourites at the show – balanced, amazing planting and I loved the different levels.
Françoise Murat & Associates are Architectural Interior Designers and Garden & Landscape designers working in London and the south east.
We specialise in period homes and historical gardens as well as contemporary new build or refurbishments.
All photographs copyright Françoise Murat