What’s inspiring us at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

on 21st September 2021

Wow, it’s only day two of watching the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show but already there’s been so much to inspire us.

From the large show gardens to the smaller more intimate balcony gardens, we’re already spotting ideas that can easily translate into our own homes.

Here’s a roundup of what’s been catching our eye so far.

Plant for late summer colour

Moving Chelsea to September has really reinvigorated the show with late summer and early autumn plants now taking centre stage.

Gone are the fresh, zingy palettes of early spring and summer. In come the rich colours of dahlias and salvias, combined with prairie style planting featuring grasses, rudbeckia and heleniums.

RHS Chelsea 2021 Blue Diamond Forge

RHS/Tim Sandall

Plants with spectacular foliage are providing the perfect backdrop that make these colours pop. From the architectural Abyssinian banana plant Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, with its large red purple leaves, to softer fronded ferns.

Trees such as Japanese maples are providing structure and height, as well as their transitional colours as they move from summer to autumn. Shrubs like the fabulous hydrangea paniculate ‘Limelight’ are giving a show stopping performance at this time of year.

It proves there’s no better time than now to fit in a few new plants to extend your garden colour into autumn. Here are a few later summer flowering favourites to consider:  

  • Dahlias
  • Salvias
  • Asters
  • Crocosmia
  • Flowering ginger
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Japanese anemone
  • Verbena bonariensis
  • Agastaches
  • Helianthus
  • Miscanthus

Container gardening

From gardens large to small, containers are being used in creative combinations to display plants. And it’s not just the plants that are adding the visual interest. The containers themselves are a range of sizes, shapes, textures, heights, and materials which bring a different element to the overall garden design.  This is shown to perfect effect in John McPherson’s vibrant Pop Street Garden.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 Pop Street Garden

RHS/Tim Sandall 

Not only do these planted containers look great, but they also bring several advantages:

  • Pots are moved easily allowing you to rearrange them as you want around your garden.
  • You have control over the soil/medium that is used in the pots. For example, a garden with clay, waterlogged soil can enjoy plants in pots that prefer more free draining conditions.
  • If you’ve got favourite plants, they’re easier to take with you in a pot should you ever move home.
  • You can give tender plants additional protection by fleecing or moving inside over winter.
  • Containers are a simple way to create a small garden in difficult locations such as roof tops or balconies.

This year the container gardens are showing us all that everything from flowers, to trees, to fruit and vegetables are easy to grow in pots and can enhance our garden schemes.

Going small is getting big

At only 2m x 5m, the balcony gardens have seen garden designers rise to the challenge of creating a pocket size plot that packs a big punch.

It’s amazing to see just how much can be crammed into these capsule gardens without the space feeling crowded or chaotic.

Making the most of every inch of these urban spaces works thanks to the use of clever gardening tricks.  Planting is used to provide shelter and privacy, as well as scent and colour.  Practical garden features serve a dual-purpose such as benches that double as storage.

The results prove that no matter the size of an outdoor space, it’s possible to create an urban haven for both people and wildlife.

Outdoor living

Throughout all the gardens there is an emphasis on making the most of the space with some form of area designated for outdoor living.

Whether this is a quiet corner for reflection and quiet contemplation, or a social area for entertaining, the trend of using your garden as an extension of your home is as strong as ever.

Like the Chelsea gardens, we encourage our clients to think about how they could spend more time enjoying their new garden. For a small garden, you could simply add a pergola planted with climbers from which you hang a seat. Perfect for curling up with a good book. 

RHS Chelsea 2021 Yeo Valley Organic Garden Neil Hepworth

RHS/Neil Hepworth

Larger gardens could include an outdoor kitchen area fully equipped with the latest gadgets and plenty of space for storage and preparation. To accompany this a covered seating area means you’ve got somewhere comfortable to socialise whatever the weather.

Adding heating, lighting, sound systems, and garden furniture to this outdoor living area further enhances how you use this space.

Reuse and recycle

Not buying new and repurposing old bits and bobs is a theme that has run through the Chelsea gardens for the past few years.

This year it’s still going strong and encourages us all to be more mindful of the decisions we make in sourcing materials and features for our garden.

A fantastic example of this is the beautiful, reclaimed set of ornate doors rescued from a palace in India that feature in Martha Krempel’s Arcadia garden.  As well as looking great they inspire conversation and contemplation around their history and workmanship.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 Arcadia Balcony Garden

RHS/Sarah Cuttle

Making the most of what you already have, or can find on a trip to a reclamation yard, also means that you’re going to find a completely unique piece of art or structure for your garden.  In a world of homogenised, mass-produced products, if you truly want a one-of-a-kind feature, recycling and upcycling is a great place to start.

Gardening for mental health & wellbeing

What a year of lockdowns has taught us is just how vital green spaces have been for our health.  Not just our physical health, but the calming effect nature has on our mental health.

More and more research is showing the positive impact being outdoors has on lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and inducing calm and positivity.

Chelsea Flower Show has embraced this with their Sanctuary Gardens which show us all how to create a quiet space that provides escape.

Inspired by natural landscapes, using calming palettes of greens and soft colours, combined with soothing sounds of water these gardens encourage visitors to sit and stay a while.

For the ultimate in relaxation, Taina Suonio’s Finnish Soul Garden even comes complete with its own sauna and cool-off area.  Now that’s something we wouldn’t mind finding at the bottom or our garden!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 Finnish Soul Garden

RHS/Sarah Cuttle

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about some of our highlights of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, and that you may be inspired to put some of these ideas into practice in your own gardens.

If you need a hand turning these ideas into a reality, please feel free to get in touch. As experienced garden landscapers we can help you create your own show garden at home.

What’s inspiring us at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

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