The Chelsea Flower Show 2019: highlights & key trends to try at home

Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, shares his insight into the Chelsea Flower Show 2019 and gives us some ideas for recreating the key trends we saw at home.

Last weekend we saw Britain’s favourite and most prestigious flower show draw to a close in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. Organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), each year the Chelsea Flower Show brings together garden designers, expert horticulturists, famous faces, and the British public to celebrate gardening on a massive scale. With so many beautiful gardens at this year’s show, I’m here to tell you my highlights as well as offer some tips for how you can recreate this year’s key trends at home, no matter how big or small your garden may be.

Show highlights

There were so many examples of great garden designs and breath-taking plant combinations this year.

David Austin’s Secret Garden, for example, was an incredible romantic swirl of roses featuring two never seen before varieties of English Rose: ‘Eustacia Vye’ and ‘Gabriel Oak’. This was an especially important year for David Austin Roses, as the garden won the company its 25th gold medal. Opposite the garden stood a monument to David C. H. Austin, founder, who sadly passed away in December last year.

Another highlight that was very popular with the crowds came from Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who made her garden design debut with the RHS Back to Nature garden that was co-designed with Andrée Davies and Adam White.

It was designed to raise awareness of gardening’s impact on our health and wellbeing, and her children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis — were her inspiration. It featured a treehouse, swing, a stream, and edible plants to play with and explore. The design was fluid with soft winding curves and no sharp angles, and it was created using sustainable British-grown materials.

Twelve gardens in total were lucky enough to win gold medals, but there were two clear winners when it came to the show gardens category.

Best Show Garden

Andy Sturgeon’s M&G Garden won Best Show Garden, as voted for by the official panel of judges. M&G Investments is the long-term exclusive headline sponsor of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The planting for their garden this year was a celebration of foliage, with fine feathery plants like ferns taking up the majority of the landscape. The gorgeous bold planting was sympathetically complimented by naturalistic water pools, stone platforms, and burnt oak timber ‘rock’ formations.

People’s Choice Show Garden Winner

Mark Gregory, last year’s People’s Choice winner, won again this year with his impressively detailed Welcome to Yorkshire garden. The garden was a quiet snippet of the Yorkshire countryside, featuring a flowing canal, a cobbled path, and a lock keeper’s office surrounded by meadow flowers, trees, hedges, and a vegetable patch. Visitors were so taken with it that it even inspired a proposal!

Key trends and how to use them

Most of the gardens this year were more woodland-inspired and relaxed than we usually see at the Chelsea Flower Show. Natural planting was popular, leading to wilder gardens that weren’t too overly manicured and instead had plenty of green leaves, big trees, and wildflowers. Wildlife sanctuaries, such as areas or whole gardens full of bee-friendly plants, also featured heavily thanks to rising concerns about the UK’s insect and songbird populations. Luckily, these types of gardens are easy to grow, can be recreated at home by almost anyone regardless of ability, and don’t require much looking after either!

Mini meadows

Mini meadows are perfect if you want to recreate these trends from the Chelsea Flower Show in your own garden, as they have that pretty, natural look, and they can help bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife thrive. In your local garden centre, look for wildflower seed mixes such as cornfield and meadow flowers. Take a break from mowing and let your lawn grow out a little more than you normally would for long grass full of daisies, dandelions, buttercups, poppies, and other naturally occurring flowers that are a very important source of nectar for bees.

Water features

At this year’s show, water features were as popular as ever: The Best Show Garden had a series of pools, the People’s Choice garden had a replica canal, and the RHS Garden had a stream and waterfall installation. Water features come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from ponds to fountains to birdbaths, so you’re sure to find the space for one in your own garden. Plus, a water feature can attract even more wildlife and support the ecosystem.

Space-saving gardening

Overall, the show this year seemed focussed on tiny details and many of the gardens tried to pack in as many different elements as possible to make the most of the available space. This was especially evident in IKEA and Tom Dixon’s Gardening Will Save The World display of urban gardening technology. Indoor growing systems such as grow lamps, intensive gardening in crates and boxes, and soil-free hydroponics are great space-saving options for people with small gardens or no outdoor space at all. This technology is helping to make gardening more accessible than ever.

These are just some of the highlights from this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, as well as some ideas to try if you want to incorporate the key landscaping trends in your own gardens