Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Taking inspiration from Chelsea Flower Show

People are generally surprised to hear that I'm not a regular visitor to the Chelsea Flower Show. I have attended in the past, but I don't enjoy the crowds or jostling to the front to see the show gardens, and you can only buy plants at the big sell-off at the end. I prefer to watch the television coverage of Chelsea from the comfort of my sofa. It gives you access into the gardens and a close-up look at the planting that a visit does not.
Visitors to our recent NGS open garden commented that this border could have been seen in a Chelsea show garden

Often Chelsea gardens put plants together that would not in real life flower at the same time, but you can still take inspiration from the colour combinations created. This year many of the gardens featured orange flowers, ranging from dusky orange, through peach to vibrant orange. We use orange flowers in many places in the garden either to compliment or contrast.
The orange flowers of Euphorbia griffithii Dixter contrast with the purple heads of Allium Globemaster. The red stems of the euphorbia are picked up by the purple leaves of Ligularia and the pale pinky-peach flowers of Nectaroscordum siculum add a calming influence

Geums were a popular plant at Chelsea and come in shades of red, orange and yellow. They are easy to grow plants that happily weave their flower heads around their neighbours. They have a fairly long flowering season and pretty foliage. Grow in sun or part shade towards the front of a border.
Geum Prinses Julianna against aquilegia foliage

Three Chelsea show gardens included Iris Kent Pride: Vestra Wealth's Garden of Mindful Living, The Modern Slavery Garden and The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden. We have this iris planted with white alliums in our sunny front garden. Its unusual browny-orange colour works well with many other plants, as long as it isn't too crowded - the corms need to be baked by the sun.
Iris Kent Pride with Allium White Empress and the silver leaves of Cynara cardunculus in the background

A combination of Lysicmachia atropurpurea Beaujolais and a pale peach geum is one that I will be copying. The pale peach will pick out the peachy tones on nearby Lupin Masterpiece.
Lupin Masterpiece with the blue-grey foliage and deep plum flowers of Lysimachia atropurpurea Beaujolais in the background
A peach coloured geum that might have to be relocated next to Lysicmachia atropurpurea Beaujolais and Lupin Masterpiece

The most inspiring garden for me was The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden, designed by Nick Bailey, which combined pines, succulents and frothy perennials. We have many of these plants in our garden already, but I now have new ideas about ways to combine them.
Aeoniums (tree houseleeks) are easy to grow in outdoor pots, but need protection from frost in the winter

A combination of a variegated cornus and a yellow lupin on the Hillier nursery stand in the Great Pavilion is one that I have already adopted. Hillier's had selected a Cornus contraversa variegata, known as the wedding cake tree because it holds its branches in tiers, and a yellow herbaceous lupin. We have a variegated Cornus mas and Lupinus arboreus (tree lupin), which is an evergreen shrub, but the combination should give us the same soft effect.

The yellow lupin flowers pick up the creamy variegation of the cornus leaves

Also of interest in the garden at the moment -
Allium Christophii with ladybird poppies - a combination inspired by a visit to Great Dixter

Our to-do list

Removing faded Spring flowers and seed heads - seed heads of wild garlic and bluebells are removed before they set seed, and faded forget-me-nots are pulled up to make way for summer perennials.

Watering and feeding - we feed potted plants and daylilies and agapanthus in the borders every two weeks from now on to ensure the best flower and fruit.

Mowing the lawn - we do this weekly now. A neat law makes the exuberant borders stand out.

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