I was lucky enough to go to Hampton Court Flower Show at the beginning of July. My lovely friend, Bonnie, bought me tickets for my 50th birthday and we went on preview day, so we managed to avoid the rain and the mud!!
It was the first big event I’ve been to since we have eased out of lockdown and it felt wonderful to be outside, looking at plants and lusting after flowers! Here are the key trends I spotted that we can transfer to our gardens:
1. Relaxation – whatever your idea of relaxation is, your garden is the place to do it in! Be it reading, playing swingball or sitting with a glass of something cold in your hand, the show gardens focused on being places to relax in. Calmness was created by lush naturalistic planting in soft hues, and with billowing grasses evoking summer meadows. Definitely my style of garden: somewhere which encourages us to stop, sit and contemplate.
2. Flowers to grow and cut – this is an emerging trend, with more and more folk growing flowers to bring inside. The trick to getting annuals and perennials to flower more is to pinch out the adolescent stems, promoting bushier growth and, therefore, more flower heads. This trick can be used on cosmos, sweet peas and dahlias, so be brave and give it a go next year. The Rose Marquee at the show was incredible, with a huge range of colours and scents. I came home and ordered a bush rose called ‘Hot Chocolate’ from Peter Beales, as it was a red/copper colour I’d never seen before!
3. Growing your own – there was a whole zone of the Flower Show dedicated to allotments, and it was great to hear Charles Dowding talking about his ‘no-dig’ method for starting off and maintaining one. Growing great fruit and veg is all about the soil: looking after the soil looks after your crops.
4. Sustainability – I’m not sure this is a trend as such: more a series of habits we must all adopt. Every aspect of sustainability was covered at the Flower Show, from efficient use of water, upcycling, re-purposing and re-using materials (including plastics), to supporting local growers and producers, reducing the use of chemicals and going peat-free. I always think that gardeners are pretty hot on all these issues, and making do or creating Heath Robinson solutions is in our genes (who hasn’t got a pile of plastic pots in their shed they use year after year?). But there is always something new to learn, and flower shows are well worth keeping an eye on for new ideas.
5. Tough plants – there was a lot of resilient planting in the show gardens this year. One used drought-tolerant plants to show how we can plant in changing climate conditions. Another, made of builder’s waste materials, showed that there are tough plants which can grow where there’s not a lot of soil (good news if you’ve bought a new build in the last few years!). For me, the key thing is understanding your garden’s conditions so you can plant the right plant in the right place. Doing this means plants not only survive but thrive, flower their socks off for you and are easy to look after.
Renée is a local gardener and designer, whose Heath Robinson tendencies run strong in her DNA. Go to www.thegirlwhogardens.co.uk to read more about her and how she can help you make a garden for you to relax in.