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Draw some inspiration from garden designs on show at last week’s flower show in London and add some international flair to your own patch of green

Where do you find inspiration for your garden? Last week, the world’s top garden designers showcased their cutting-edge ideas, thoughts and inspiration in over 40 gardens built for the Chelsea Flower Show.

As the Olympics of garden design and horticulture, the show, held annually in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London, is the world’s oldest and most prestigious flower show. It attracts over 160000 visitors and the garden designs and plants showcased at Chelsea are debated and discussed across the world.

The 12 large show gardens attract the most attention internationally. Costing millions of rands to create, they often contain priceless artworks and indoor-outdoor entertainment patios sponsored by multinationals such as the Korean LG Group. Many of the large gardens are transplanted into a head office show garden or even a children’s home or old-age home at the end of the show.

Read: Chelsea Flower Show: 2018’s best designs in pictures

           Celebrating gold

The smaller gardens provide a glimpse of corners that can be repeated in our own gardens. This year’s “Space to Grow” show gardens offered superb ideas and trends gardeners can incorporate in their own gardens, regardless of size or theme.

Top plants

More than 40 of the best newly launched hybrid plants from across the world compete for the coveted title of best plant. This year, Hydrangea Runaway Bride “Snow White” was named the Chelsea Plant of the Year 2018.

Chelsea Plant of the Year 2018: Hydrangea Runaway bride Snow White. Picture: Kay Montgomery

Bred by Ushio Sakazaki of Japan, this cascading hydrangea is suitable for hanging baskets and planting along the edges of raised beds. Not all the coveted Plants of the Year are suited to South African conditions. Local growers will no doubt trial this new hydrangea, but may be more interested in finalist plants such as colourful purple arums or sunflowers which resemble rudbeckias.

Popular trends

With World Environment Day being commemorated on June 5, it is fitting many of the Chelsea gardens included space for nature in their designs.

Most of this year’s garden designs included environmentally-friendly aspects and many showcased a number of drought-tolerant plants for water-wise gardens.

London-based garden designer Tony Woods received the Best Space to Grow garden award for his The Urban Flow Garden. With bold features and a practical outdoor living space, the garden couples water conservation with environmentally considerate landscaping and a planting scheme that attracts wildlife. The garden also featured an attractive maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), handcrafted clay bricks and porcelain cladding.

There were a number of take-home ideas from Chelsea this year. Here are a few:

The Silent Pool Gin Garden was designed by David Neale. Picture: Sarah Cuttle/RHS

Get creative with copper

Copper, as a colour featured in the grand large garden entitled, Silent Pool Gin Garden’s. A striking laser-cut copper panel, copper still and a copper “citrus peel” sculpture dominated. Copper seats in the garden also featured in a bee-friendly garden designed by Kate Savill and Tamara Bridge in the Warner Edwards Garden.

GET THE LOOK Use copper-coloured metallic spray paint to add sparkle to a set of old containers or spray a metal garden ornament. Introduce coppery tones in the soft furnishings you use on your garden patio.

The Supershoes, Laced with Hope Garden featured a vibrant, painted mural. Picture: Sarah Cuttle/RHS

Create wall art

A vibrant wall mural as a means of drawing children to the garden and uplifting their spirits was the focal point of The Supershoes, Laced with Hope Garden, designed by newcomer Laura Anstiss. Bursting with colour, the garden was created to bring hope to children diagnosed with cancer.

GET THE LOOK Before painting a mural on an outdoor wall, ensure the wall is clean and sound. Fill holes with exterior filler and sand to a smooth finish. After painting, apply a clear coating with UV protection to seal the picture.

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden received a silver-gilt award at the Chelsea Flower Show in the show gardens category. Picture: RHS/Neil Hepworth

Plant local

Designer Jonathan Snow brought a touch of South Africa to Chelsea with the Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden. With a traditional Cape Dutch home as the backdrop for the garden, Snow added classic South African plants like agapanthus, red hot pokers (Kniphofia spp.) and proteas to his design.

GET THE LOOK Plant red hot pokers in your garden. Plants in the family have a number of species flowering in both summer and winter and bring a vibrant sunshine yellow, bright or burnt orange tones or hues of green and cream to the garden. The flowers are also nectar-rich and attract birds to the garden. Plant Kniphofia in rich soil in full sun or partial shade.

Blend stone with roses

Dry-stone natural structures with plantings of pink and purple roses offered an old world feature to a garden entitled The Claims Guys: A Very English Garden designed by Janine Crimmins.

GET THE LOOK Dry-stack flat natural stone to form a backdrop for a rose garden or plant roses in stone or faux stone containers.

For dark pink roses consider “Lady Like”, “Candy Stripe”, “Patricia Lewis” or “Burning Sky”, or “Purple Fragrancia” in many shades of purple.

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