Style spies will agree that Chelsea’s show gardens present a taste of trends to come. This year there was a strong focus on how we interact with our environment. Now, more than ever, gardens are seen as destinations to calm our senses. Places to pause, relax and reboot.
Best for SA’s climate: M&G Investments Garden
Local interest: This gold medal-winning garden’s strong Mediterranean underpinning is ideal for South Africa’s sunny climate.
Inside scoop: Landscape designer Sarah Price expanded on a timeless idea that simple elements such as a wall, trees and seating are all you need to create an intimate oasis of calm.
A sensual interplay of contrasts set the design apart. Colour and texture, light and shadow came to life in an organic canvas of clay, aggregate and tile, interwoven with Mediterranean planting.
Planting palette: Trees, especially pomegranates, formed the cornerstone of the design. The garden’s composition pivoted around their organic shapes, while a large pool reflected their branching forms.
Best for summer living: Morgan Stanley Garden for NSPCC
Local interest: The garden’s bespoke cedar wood pavilion, enclosed at the back with a calm, reflective pool, is ideal for SA’s balmy summers.
Inside scoop: Richly planted woodland served as a prequel to an open space filled with textural perennials. With a strong focus on creating a calm, tranquil haven, landscape designer Chris Beardshaw offset foliar greens with swathes of blues, pinks and purples.
Planting ensemble: Large trees, acid-loving woodland specimens with subtle foliage textures.
Best for creating a destination: The Wedgwood Garden
Local interest: Bespoke outdoor garden rooms are made to measure for local living.
Harking back to the past, the Wedgwood Garden gave a modern interpretation of an 18th-century secret garden. Designed by Jo Tompson, the garden symbolised a renewed focus on escapism. Taking centre stage was a pavilion that appeared to dance over a meandering stream.
Planting ensemble: Harmonious planting and naturalistic rocks and boulders gave an artistically textured feel. Blooms in hues of pale yellow, periwinkle, inky purple, rust and peach laced through numerous grasses.
The urban farmer
The Lemon Tree Trust Garden reflected the current focus on sustainable “grow your own” gardening. Fruiting trees such as pomegranates, figs and lemon trees were interspersed with Damask roses and aromatic herbs.
An abundance of local Cape flora was showcased in the Trailfinders: A South African Wine Estate garden. Landscape designer Jonathan Snow gave a snapshot of the diversity of fynbos dotted about the Cape Fold Mountains.
The garden displayed plants that are known in the UK as cut flowers, such as proteas and pincushions, or well-known garden plants like agapanthus, gladioli and pelargoniums.
The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden rekindled the joy of cottage-style planting in shades of purple, pink and white.
A wildlife haven
The David Harber and Savills Garden underscored the importance of plants as magnets for birds, bees and beneficial insects. Designed by Nic Howard, the garden was filled with textural layers of decorative grasses. The lusher more cultivated areas included peonies, lupins, geums, hostas and geraniums.
Recreate the look in your garden
Reflective ponds: If you’re looking for a garden reboot, consider adding a reflective pond.
Water-wise: Mix colourful swathes of drought-tolerant Mediterranean planting.
Layers of interest: Carefully crafted naturalistic planting is on-trend. Combine layers of ground-hugging scented herbs, punctuated with sub-shrubs and taller wispy flowers and ornamental grasses.
Informal pathways: Intersperse informal gravel pathways with scree planting.
Trees: Use trees to create spaces of relaxation.
All images copyright of the Royal Horticultural Society