Make your garden look like a Chelsea Show Garden


Chelsea Show Garden

 Want one of these?

RHS show Garden

But have one of these….

not quite a show garden

In my previous post on Chelsea show gardens, we looked at why it will be nigh on impossible to recreate a show garden at home but that we could take on board bits of the gardens to create a bit more glamour at home.

The gardens on show at Chelsea are packed with dozens of varieties of plants, in some cases over a hundred different plant species in one 100m sq garden – all of which creates that wow factor.  However recreating the look of the garden is not quite as simple as choosing some of the plants used and popping them all together in a border, you need to be a bit more bold. It is how the plants are used that creates the ‘wow’ factor at Chelsea, so to try and capture some of the magic in your own garden, you are going to have to shake things up a bit.


This year, spirals are in, as are plant humps and monoliths, but Chelsea show gardens don’t really have lawns and most back gardens need a lawn – they are vital if you have kids, pets, washing lines or enjoy sunbathing. As a result, you can’t use all that a show garden produces, but you can adapt it around your existing garden, but you have to be a little more creative with what is usually the most dominant feature in the garden, the lawn.


‘Chelsea-fying’ the lawn


Many gardens of whatever shape or size tend to adopt a ‘centrifugal’ pattern for the border – the theory (incorrectly) is it maximises the usefulness of the garden; it doesn’t.

centrifugal-gardenIt is really difficult to get the planting scheme  to have any real drama if all you can do is plant everything in a straight line around the fences.

There are lots of simple design shapes that will make the garden look a whole lot more interesting because you can create a deep enough border and thus combine the plants more effectively; so it resembles more closely a show style of garden. Combine your plants into bigger deeper borders to create more impact – it’s much better than a centrifuge garden!


narrow entrance offset oval Square corners


In all these lawn shapes, you still have plenty of space for grass, but now you also have a deeper border and that’s how you can begin to create real impact.


Reach for the sky!


Most humans are about 5-6ft tall, so when we look ahead, we look at things first that are directly in front of our eyes – things that are about 5-6 ft tall. You need eye-catching plants or structures in the garden that are 5-6ft tall. By including these, you will notice less the other structures that are 5-6ft tall around you – your fences.


chelsea 1000 pxAll of these design drawings for Chelsea use height, your eyes are made to look up and down to see all that is there.


You can use plants and or monoliths, sculpture or art to create this type of interest, you can also use small trees, but choose carefully, trees have a habit of dropping leaves, fruit and reduce light levels.


Putting it into practice.

It’s all very well saying all this stuff, but what if your garden really is a rather unattractive fence enclosed plot of nothingness – make that a Chelsea garden!

Case in point here, a really tiny space, with a dominant brick wall and an artwork of drainpipes for a view.

brick wall back yard

Firstly we need to include some stylish features, that make the space more interesting and that provides something to look at.


 So we have a basic shape and a reasonably good sized border, that still leaves enough space for a table and chairs. Incidentally (& garden purists please stop reading the next line) ditch the lawn, if you want green grass in a lawn this size, go artificial or use shingle.


Now to plant, the thing to remember about show gardens, is they use huge variety of plants, many of which won’t be suited to a small garden – ie speed spreaders, ‘buy one get thousands free’ type plants or even worse the plant ‘triffids’.… Show gardens only last a week, so any plant rebels in there don’t have time to begin a rebellion.

[download id=”10055″]

The upshot is that although you may want to use the actual plants, it may be better to use other plants more suitable that give the same effect. 

To see what plants we’ve used to create these borders simply click on the download.


white-shade-small-garden-ch sunset-colours pink-and-magenta-small-gard

So you can create a wow factor in any size garden, albeit in small spaces there is probably only enough space for one ‘wow’, it’s a whole lot better than staring at a fence!

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