I’m a big fan of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show and, each year, the garden designs never fail to impress.
A lot of the gardens this year feature strong structural elements, using stone, wood or metal, that really make them stand out.
Whilst it might not be possible to create them down to a tee at home, there are definitely ideas to take away, be it structural shapes to try out, materials that work in a garden, planting ideas or simply colour palettes.
Here are a few favourite contemporary garden designs from this year’s show.
1. The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk
Designed by Rosy Hardy. Sponsored by: Brewin Dolphin.
Spring has sprung and suddenly I’m getting urges to be out ‘doing things’ in the garden.
I’ve made a start on weeding, cutting back dead growth and a spot of planting, but have lots more planned and am currently drooling over ideas for all the things I’d like to plant this year.
If you’re keen to get gardening, then here are some ideas for useful garden projects that you might like to get stuck into this spring.
Make your garden bird friendly
Spring is just as important a time of the year to think about birds as the colder winter months are.
Birds are beginning to think about nesting (I’ve been watching blackbirds very busily collecting nesting materials), so you could ensure that there are plenty of suitable nesting materials available for them to obtain. If you have pets, such as cats or dogs, and especially if they’re moulting, you could put their fur to good use after grooming them and fill a bird feeder with it.
Other materials that birds find useful to use in their nesting activities include natural fibres, such as wool and cotton, ribbon, lace and bits of string. All of these can be added to a feeder for them to forage and find.
Now is also a good time to install a bird box or two in your garden or on the walls of your house. Different sized boxes suit different types of birds – sparrows, for example, like to nest in families, so choose a sparrow terrace style box, whereas robins tend to prefer a slightly open fronted box, that can be hidden by a hedge or other plants.
If you’re a dab hand with a hammer and nails, then why not have a go at making your own bird box? The British Trust for Ornithology have a useful guide to box building, including which size is best for which bird.
Plant sunflower seeds
If you’re keen to grow sunflowers this year, then now is the perfect time to start planting the seeds.
Sow the seeds in individual pots to start them off, or dedicate an area of your garden to become the sunflower patch.
If you’re doing the latter, it’s a good idea to use plant markers to mark where you’ve planted the seeds. Not only so that you can keep an eye on their growth and progress, but also so anyone else in your household who might be gardening too knows where they are (and doesn’t accidentally pull up your giant sunflower seedling, as has happened to me in the past!).
Weeding and pruning
It’s not the most exciting of garden projects, but if your garden has been somewhat neglected over the winter, now is a good time to get out there and start weeding and pruning. It can actually be a very satisfying job, especially as you can see a real difference when you finish!
Prune back plants such as roses and hedges, as well as any other old growth (I’ve tidied up our passionflower, for example).
If you have fruit trees, such as apple or pear trees, and haven’t touched them since last year, get pruning them too. It’s essential to do so before any new buds start appearing and might help ensure you get a good crop of fruit later in the summer.
Garden blog carnival
This post is part of a blog carnival celebrating all things garden-related for #NationalGardeningWeek. For more inspiring ideas, check out these posts from fellow bloggers:
Add some contemporary style, quirkiness and charm to your garden, with these fab wall planters.
Want to create a striking feature out of a wall planter? This buffalo head won’t disappoint! The base of this buffalo trophy head style wall planter is made from wire and you can plant it up using moss and succulents, as seen here, or train climbing plants over it. It’s unique and fun (a rhino design is available too). £39.95 from London Garden Trading.
We love a bit of quirkiness, and these garden tap planters definitely have it! Sadly they won’t provide a super easy way of watering your plants, but they do look good. £25 from Ella James.
These fab vertical garden planters have so many uses. Grow strawberries, salad, herbs or flowers in them. Perfect if you’ve got limited space for standard planters, as these can be hung on a wall or fence. £14 from Freshly Forked.
Metallics are a hot trend in the home, but now you can add some to your garden too, with these gold metallic wall planters. £17.50 from MiaFleur.
We love these living wall planters. Suitable for inside or outside, they feature four succulents and are as much a piece of art as they are plants. The quad living wall is £59.95 from The Urban Botanist.
One of the interior design trends we’re loving at the moment is the return of the terrarium. These unique containers, which are often modern and contemporary in design, provide the perfect place to create a mini garden of plants to hang or display in your home
They’re a great way of bringing the outdoors in, especially if you don’t have a garden, and can be used with very low maintenance plants that even the non-green-fingered can have a go with.
We love succulents such as Sempervivums and these work perfectly in terrariums, but you can also plant ferns, small flowers and cacti in them. For the ultimate in ease, try opting for air plants.
5 top terrariums
1. Featuring two of our current favourite interior design trends – copper and geometrics – this hanging terrarium and air plant from Adorn Homeware is ideal. It’s handcrafted and based on Scandinavian style and design. It’s £30.
2. The Urban Botanist are specialists in terrariums and have a brilliant selection of products available. We like their modern Skyline range, which includes this globe design. It comes fully assembled with a plant included and can be hung or placed flat on a surface. It’s priced from £29.95.
3. The design of terrariums can be very eye-catching, like this diamond-inspired planter from Urban Outfitters. It’s made of iron and glass and finished in gold. It’s available exclusively online for £35.
5. There are some really funky shaped terrariums available, like this cube one from West Elm. It’s made of glass and copper and is designed to enable the containers to be clustered together in different formations. It’s priced at £44.
Check out some more terrarium inspiration on our Pinterest board. Or if you fancy having a go at making your own terrarium, Ikea have a useful step-by-step guide.
They say it only takes one hour to do and is fun for all the family, so it could be ideal for a rainy day in the summer holidays!
Whether you’ve got a garden, patio, deck, balcony or simply a small backyard, I’m sure you’ll agree that being able to look out at some colourful flowers helps brighten up the space.
If you’re strapped for time or don’t have remotely green fingers, then don’t panic – there’s an easy solution to hand!
Set Your World on Flowers has come up with a great concept so that everyone can enjoy fresh looking flowers outside throughout the summer. They’ve grown selected varieties of flowers with a ‘secret formula’ (so secret that we can’t tell you what it is) so that the flowers will stay bold, beautiful and in bloom for at least 40 days – all you need to do is water them.
Given the unpredictability of the British weather, that’s quite a claim….so they sent us some to try out and put to the test.
Here’s what they looked like when they arrived:
As you can see, they arrived in a riot of colour, with gorgeous pink and purple flowers and lots of healthy green looking leaves. Although a lot of the flowers were blooming away happily already, there were still lots of buds waiting to open, which was encouraging to see.
So the plants have been outside on our patio ever since, in wind, rain and sun. They’ve survived being accidentally blown over when it got rather windy , being baked in the sun and occasionally going without water after someone (ahem…) forgot to water them.
A month on, here’s how they’re looking today:
Still blooming, hooray! I adore both of the pink ones, they’ve got lovely subtleties of colour and they’re looking gorgeous. The dark purple flowers provides a striking contrast and are an ideal colour combination.
Of course some flowers have gone over, petals have fallen off – that’s only to be expected from a natural plant, you can’t control it’s growth completely without doing more to it – but all things considered, they’re still looking really good.
No matter how big your outside space, growing plants in containers is a great way to add some interest and colour. It also helps keep a small space looking clean and simple, as all the plants are raised off the ground level.
You can grow almost anything in a pot, from herbs and bedding plants to vegetables and fruit. Trailing plants such as Lobelia often have more impact when planted in a tall pot rather than in beds and create a wonderful splash of colour during the summer months.
Choosing containers for your plants
Create a structured, architectural look by using large containers such as old stone or iron troughs, or pots of an interesting or unusual shape.
Larger pots will give you more planting options, and anything you choose should ideally be frostproof and have drainage holes. Match the style of container to the plant, as well.
Bright perennials look good against terracotta or stone, glazed pots suit camellias and Japanese maples while taller, more structural plants such as box and privet look good in half barrels or wooden or metal pots.
Scour architectural salvage yards or even car boot sales for unusual planters.
Look for unusual containers to make an impact. Image: Pixabay
If you’re planting an eye-catching display for the summer, fill pots with multi-purpose compost. For very deep pots, put a few large stones in the bottom to encourage drainage.
If you’re planting something long term such as shrubs or herbs, use a soil-based compost which won’t dry out as quickly. If your pots are going to be standing in full sun, such as on a balcony or patio, mix some water-retaining crystals into the compost. When watered, these will swell up keeping the plant damp for longer.
You could also cover the top of the pot with clay ‘pearls’ or gravel, which will help keep the soil moist and to prevent weeds. If your pot will be standing on a hard surface, raise it up on clay feet or bricks to help drainage.
Different sizes and shades of pot make a visual impact. Image: Pixabay
Watering and feeding
Pots are relatively easy to look after, but are vulnerable to drying out. Check them every day during the summer, twice a day in hot weather. Water in the morning and evening, taking care to water the compost rather than the plants themselves.
Fill the container to the brim and let it drain through, then fill a second time so that the compost is evenly moistened. Keep an eye on drainage holes to make sure they don’t become blocked, as most plants dislike sitting in a pool of water.
Throughout the growing season (April to early September), feed plants once a week with a general purpose liquid feed.
Re-potting your plants
One disadvantage of growing plants in containers is that eventually the roots fill all the available space and become pot bound. At this stage, the plant will stop flourishing and will need to be re-potted.
Choose a container that’s at least a third bigger than the old one, and ease the plant out of the old pot, trying not to damage the root structure. Keep the old compost, and add a third more new compost.
Pots add interest to the smallest space or corner. Image: Pixabay
At the end of the summer, vulnerable perennials such as bay trees, citrus trees or geraniums need to be moved under cover or protected with bubble wrap. Keep the outside pots slightly raised off the ground to keep them out of water, and check them regularly.
Plants particularly suitable for growing in containers include herbs, hostas (which are far easier to protect from slug damage if potted, try putting a copper band round the pot), strawberries, lavender, fushias, fruit bushes such as blackcurrants and even vegetables such as broad beans, peas and salad leaves. Mixing pots containing vegetables with those containing flowers will produce an eye-catching display all summer long.