Mother Earth Living

Garden Inspiration: The Chelsea Flower Show

If you’re like me, you probably aren’t getting the chance to attend the Royal Horticulture Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in London this year (May 24 to 28). If you’ve never heard of it, it’s possibly the largest gardening event in the world, an exhibition of gardening trends and talents from around the globe, sort of like New York Fashion Week for plants. There are inspiring garden designs and new plants are introduced (such as this new ‘Rosa Temeraire’ variety) If you’ve ever had a chance to attend, I am insanely jealous. It sounds (and looks!) like a really terrific way to experience gardening.

Last year the theme was biodiversity, a focus on the need to work with all elements of nature to produce a healthy garden. This year, the popular themes seem to be sustainable gardening ideas like rooftop gardens, green walls, insect hotels and outdoor offices. There’s a fun overview of some stunning exhibits on Treehugger, or you can view each garden by theme on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website

This design by the Royal Bank of Canada features rooftop gardening and insect hotels.
Photo by Wolfiewolf/Courtesy

Several of the gardens capitalize on the companion planting of herbs and flowers to attract beneficial insects while distracting predator insects; the M&G gardeners specifically mention lavender for attracting bees. The Irish Sky Garden plays with space, water and shape in the design for a hanging garden reflected by 25 circular pools. Many of the gardens play with the idea of outdoor living areas (the Laurent-Perrier garden features a bamboo seating area with walls that move in the wind). The Daily Telegraph garden has self-seeding herbs and flowers to convey the idea of a place that is always in flux, changing from year to year even as the rock path and Roman-inspired concrete columns stay the same. Other gardens (like the Royal Bank of Canada’s contribution seen above) focus on urban gardening ideas: vertical wall plantings, rooftop gardens and tiny ecosystems complete with spaces for beneficial insects to spend the winter months.

The Irish Sky Garden is held above scattered reflective pools by a giant crane.
Photo by Swamibu/Courtesy

The photos are gorgeous, and they make me wish I had more space to garden in, just so I could try out some of the ideas. Luckily, the RHS plans for that. Not only can you view both still shots and 360 degree video, but they have specific tips on how you can implement your favorite elements at home! I looked around and found a few more creative ways you could add the most popular elements to your garden.

• I’m pretty interested in space-saving gardening techniques. Check out these ideas to re-purpose containers as planters for succulents, and this cool video about balcony gardens.

• The Irish Sky Garden strikes me as an amazing idea. What better way to create more growing space than to suspend it in the air? This hanging gutter garden can give you space to grow new herbs without giving up old favorites, and can work as a living privacy screen for your outdoor space.

• Insect hotels (which seem to be more popular in the UK than here in the US) are built from recycled and reclaimed materials to give beneficial insects (especially bees) a place to live and spend the winter. As an added benefit, they positively contribute to the overall health and bounty of your garden in spring and summer.  Much like planting a pollinator garden, the aim is to provide beneficial insects with functioning habitat in a world where their native spaces are increasingly diminished. Here’s a PDF detailing how to create your own.

Want more garden design how-tos? Check out these articles from our archives.

• Create A Rock Wall Garden
Five-Year Kitchen Garden Design Plan
Wading Into A Water Garden
Cool Find: Floating Garden
Plant A Water-Wise Garden
The Herb Garden Planner
Raised Beds For Your Herb Garden

  • Published on May 26, 2011
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