RHS Chelsea Flower Show: garden trends of the past

by Charlotte.Barnes on May 11, 2012

Like fashion trends, flowers and gardens change from year to year. The best place to see the changing face of gardening and flower arranging is the Chelsea Flower Show. There have been a number of big trends to come from the show over the years, so we thought we’d share with you some of the most interesting.

Water management (2012)

This year, conserving water will play a big part in some gardens. With the drought affecting many parts of the UK, on show will be innovative ways of using rainwater in the garden, as well as making sure all your summer flowers look beautiful despite the lack of abundant water. Neil Dunnett has designed bioswales to store extra rainwater, these will form the central part of his design for the Royal Bank of Canada.

Mediterranean (2011)

Last year saw a lot of citrus trees, succulents and drought-tolerant plants in the gardens at Chelsea. It could be worth drawing on this trend as we still find some of the country in drought a year on. The Monaco Garden by Sarah Eberle is a perfect example of a Mediterranean garden with succulent plants surrounding a small pool.

Trees (2010)

Because of the economic downturn there seemed to be lack of big architectural features in 2010. Height restrictions had just been eased, however, so designers took the opportunity to use trees to give height to their gardens. The Cancer Research UK garden was laid out as a woodland grove with trees surrounding a timber cloister.

Urban space (2009)

Growing flowers, plants and herbs on walls and on roofs is a great way of making use of space in small gardens. A number of these were shown at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2009. Both the Helios Eco Chic garden and Fenchurch Advisory Partners garden had walls full of greenery.

Topiary (2008)

Smart box hedges gave structure to some of the gardens in this year. The Daily Telegraph’s garden looked particularly stylish, with cubes of hedges decorating it. Topiary is also something it looks like we are going to be seeing a lot of in 2012 too.

Herbs (2006)

Back in 2006 a lot of garden designers using herbs in their gardens. Not only did the plants give off great aromas, but their medicinal and culinary benefits were also highlighted. This perhaps sparked the rise in people growing their own herbs. The Saga Insurance garden had half-hardy herbs growing with perennials.

Nostalgia (2005)

In 2005, overgrown country gardens featuring old-fashioned English flowers were very popular. The Ecover Chelsea Pensioner’s Garden by the Julian Dowle Partnership even had its own little cottage pub to go with the semi-wild garden. A lot of other designs also included wild gardens with an ecological element of conserving garden wildlife.

Contemporary garden design (1999)

In this year we began to see more contemporary designs. Beautiful structures, modern art and water features took centre stage. Balston & Company designed a garden that showed off a number of tensile structures. That garden has since been moved to the RHS garden at Wisely as an example of beautiful contemporary design.

Wildlife gardening (1985)

The first garden to be shown at Chelsea that was solely about wildlife conservation was by Chris Baines of the Urban Wildlife Group back in 1985. This started the trend, along with his TV show and book, of people thinking more about wildlife when gardening.

Popularity soars (1956)

1956 was the first year that there was a separate tent to show all the floristry at the Chelsea Flower Show. Floral design exhibits had been appearing since 1948 but the popularity of them grew so much they couldn’t be housed in the tent with the other exhibitors so they got their own part of the show.

What’s been your favourite thing to see at Chelsea over the years? Do let us know.


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Charlotte Barnes

Post category: Knowledge, News, RHS Chelsea Flower Show  

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