About The Author

Get some gardening ideas at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show

THE world’s most famous horticultural show will bring together gardens influenced by Japan, the Caribbean, Malta, Canada, Mexico and Spain, from May 23 to 27.

While traditionally show gardens have gone for soft blues, subtle lilacs, creams and whites in their colour schemes, this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sees some designers going for bolder hues of deep purple and burnt orange.

Here are some of the forthcoming Chelsea gardens inspired from further afield:


This Chinese-inspired creation is the biggest of the main show gardens and will be a showstopper, with its dramatic ’Silk Road’ bridge linking different elements, displaying some of the many plant species found in Sichuan Province, one of the most florally rich and diverse regions in the world.


This garden, designed by James Basson, will feature a range of planting including grasses, trees, heathers, evergreens and flowers, to show how to rejuvenate hard mineral spaces in the extreme. Inspired by an abandoned Maltese quarry, there are monumental blocks of limestone, planted with grasses, evergreens, perennials and ground cover unique to the arid Mediterranean island. Yellow will feature heavily as it is the predominant colour of flowering plants in the Maltese spring.


An array of tropical planting is housed in this sharp, contemporary architectural garden, which mimics an active volcanic landscape reminiscent of Bermuda and the Caribbean. Four sections of laser-cut aluminium sheeting house vibrant planting, while purple and red LED lights strikingly illuminate the sections and a central palm.


Designed by Charlotte Harris, this show garden is inspired by the vast and ecologically vital boreal forest and freshwater lakes of Canada. The theme of the planting is led by the look and feel of the Canadian Boreal, featuring pines, larches and birch, with a natural-feel shrub under-storey. Part shady woodland perennials to the rear of the garden give way to sunny planting reminiscent of that found along the rocky lake and river edges of the Boreal.


Colour-washed walls in clementine, coral and cappuccino provide dramatic backdrops to the planting scheme inspired by the work of Mexican architect Luis Barragan in the Fresh Gardens category. Designed by Manoj Malde, the bright hues are offset by concrete slabs floating across a large aquamarine pool, using drought-tolerant plants that merge Mediterranean style with country cottage planting. Agaves provide rhythm, while softer herbaceous planting breathes beauty into the space.


In the Artisan Gardens, this Japanese garden is inspired by the Kyoto residence of Japanese emperors. Moss represents the passage of time, while pine and acer provide natural shapes of trees in a predominantly green colour scheme. A fine selection of plants typical of Japanese gardens will be used, many of which are popular, particularly in smaller urban gardens.


An Artisan Garden, designed by Sarah Eberle, transports us to Spain, or more specifically Barcelona, with a garden inspired by Antoni Gaudi and the modern arts movement in Barcelona. It’s a homage to Gaudi, his organic art nouveau style and his use of mosaic, stone and colour. Date palm, citrus and architectural arid plants and succulents will feature, along with a range of Mediterranean perennials including Isoplexis canariensis in tones of orange.


Hagakure means hidden leaves and this Artisan Garden expresses living and dying, coming from the same title of a Samurai text book detailing society’s value and way of life in Japan. It expresses the five senses in a peaceful space, away from noise and the stress of daily life. The main colour scheme is white, the symbol of purity and sacredness in Japan. Cornus kousa, Iris japonica and Hydrangea macrophylla all feature.

*The RHS Chelsea Flower at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, runs from May 23-27. For details, visit www.rhs.org


These late-spring early-summer lollypop flowers appear in shades of purple and white and make a great accent planted at intervals in borders. They are actually ornamental onions and can reach heights of up to 1.8m depending on the type. Bulbs should be planted in the autumn in a sheltered, sunny, well-drained site which won’t get waterlogged. Their leaves become straggly before the blooms appear, so it’s best to plant them with other plants whose foliage will mask the unsightly leaves. Good varieties include A. ’Globemaster’ and ’Purple Sensation’.