Trends Emerging at Chelsea Flower Show 2006
Trends Emerging at Chelsea Flower Show 2006
Trends Emerging at Chelsea Flower Show 2006

The highlight of the gardening year, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by Saga Insurance, sets the trends for the gardening world.  Although the RHS has never prescribed a particular theme for the show, directional trends often emerge.  Examples at this year’s show include:

Tackling Drought on the Agenda
Tackling drought is on the agenda for exhibitors, highlighting how drought resistant plants and water saving measures can help provide gardeners with solutions to hosepipe bans and water restrictions.

A number of Show Gardens are highlighting innovative ways to collect rainwater, including the Walking Barefoot with Bradstone garden, which has incorporated a sustainable urban drainage system that allows maximum benefit from water resources.1   At the back of The Saga Insurance Garden, which features drought tolerant perennials, three sculpted, concrete vessels will collect rainwater, and The 100% Pure New Zealand Garden includes indigenous plants, most of which are happy in an arid landscape. The GardenAfrica garden was designed with specific attention to water, biodiversity, conservation and natural resource management. It is sustainable and demonstrates natural techniques for water conservation and distribution.

One of the Small Gardens that considers a drier climate is The MITIE Garden, where the basis of the planting scheme is drought-tolerant plants from the Mediterranean, Mexico and South Africa.  Mediterranean plants will also feature in Dias Vagos, which is a Small Garden in the ‘City’ category.  Within the Great Pavilion Cayeux Iris maintains that tall bearded irises provide a drought-resistant low-maintenance solution to hosepipe bans and dry conditions.  Olives, palms, grasses and even cacti are in abundance on many of the gardens at this year’s show.

It’s Show Thyme! 
Rosemary, fennel, sage and thyme are the taste of the 2006 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with a number of garden designers and floral exhibitors highlighting the culinary, medicinal and aromatic benefits of herbs. 

The scent of lavender, rosemary, mint and thyme will greet visitors to The Saga Insurance Garden, where hardy and half-hardy herbs grow with perennials.  In The 4Head Garden of Dreams, which provides a sensory experience, scented herbs in muted colours populate a meadow.  Many of the herbs used in this garden possess medicinal benefits.  The Cancer Research UK Garden features herbs, which are good for cooking, including rosemary, oregano and chives. 

Within the Great Pavilion Jekka McVicar is displaying Herbs of our past and our future.  This display explores the centuries-old heritage of using herbs for a wide range of culinary and medicinal purposes and also celebrates the role that herbs continue to play today.  The Cottage Herbery will be celebrating 30 years of growing organically and peat free.

Irises in abundance
The vast choice of colours, the drought tolerant qualities of certain species and the sheer splendour of the iris has led to world-class garden designers Tom Stuart-Smith, Jinny Blom, Andy Sturgeon and Chris Beardshaw featuring the bloom within their gardens at the show.  Several Small Gardens – it is the signature plant in The Mencap & Cater Allen Bank Garden: Seeing the whole picture - also include irises and within the Great Pavilion leading nurseries will showcase the flower at its blooming best.

Visitors to the Great Pavilion will find an array of colourful irises:  black, purple, blue, yellow, orange, red, brown, pink and white bearded irises will be showcased at Cayeux Nurseries’ exhibit.  Claire Austin Hardy Plants will also display bearded irises and Broadleigh Gardens will feature peacock coloured Broadleigh irises.  Kelways has not only grown irises for its own exhibit but also for The Telegraph Garden and the Laurent-Perrier Garden, around 2,000 in total.  Wholesaler, Howards Nursery, another exhibit within the Great Pavilion, nurtured a number of Iris sanguinea ‘Snow Queen’ for The Savills Garden.

Orchids great and small
In recent years, orchids have been growing in popularity and with easy to grow orchids becoming more accessible, they have been attracting a wide following, including a number of celebrities who herald them as their favourite flower.  Reflecting this trend are seven exhibits within the Great Pavilion, more than recent years, which will showcase a wide variety of popular and more unusual plants at the show.

From cymbidiums and phalaenopsis, to new odontoglossums, Devon-based Burnham Nurseries will be displaying hundreds of beautifully coloured orchids.  The Orchid Society of Great Britain will be bringing the outdoors indoors, with a cave and waterfall scene, scattered with an array of orchids to show how these plants grow in their natural setting. In contrast, Helen and David Millner will be showing their orchids in a suitably stylish, Japanese-themed garden setting, using bamboo, gravel and moss to show off their range of Phalaenopsis at their very best.  McBeans Orchids will be returning to Chelsea for their 86th show and, first-timer at the show, French orchid nursery Vacherot & Lecoufle will be celebrating the 120th anniversary of the firm.  The Chris Beardshaw Wormcast Garden – Growing for Life at Boveridge House includes an exhibition of orchids in a summer pavilion.

Cor-Ten pre-rusted steel
According to those who know, anyone who’s anyone will have Cor-Ten pre-rusted steel in their garden this summer.  Top designers Tom Stuart Smith and Cleve West both have pre-rusted steel in their gardens and a number of small gardens including Daisy, Daisy also feature the rusted metal in one form or another.

Glass in the Garden
Glass in many forms continues to be popular in gardens at Chelsea. A dramatic 3.5 metre tall, multi-tiered, glass sculpture is an interpretation of a glacier in the Ravine Garden: Gift of the Glacier and The Leeds Parks and White Rose Office Park Garden includes a glass sculpture and steel screen to catch the sun and sparkle throughout the garden.  This garden will also have glass crystal within ponds. Modern glass walls in The 100% Tourism New Zealand Garden follow the movement of water from waterfall, through rivers and lakes and out to the sea, which is represented by the abstract horizon in glass.  Stuart Perry says that the glass wall in his garden is the largest single piece of glass ever used in the UK and possibly Europe.  It is 2.4 metres tall and 8 metres wide and weighs some 2000 kg.

Rose Renaissance?
Rumour has it that there is a ‘rose renaissance’ taking place… Specialist growers Peter Beales Roses, David Austin Roses, Notcutts Garden Centres & Mattocks Roses and Harkness Roses, will all be at the show displaying the blooms in all their glory.  Around 15 new roses will be launched in the Great Pavilion including R. Fetzer Syrah Rosé (‘Harextra’), which is a rose with the same colour and scent as the wine.

Show Garden designers who are featuring roses within their displays include Jinny Blom, Andy Sturgeon, Stuart Perry and Chris Beardshaw, who has selected Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’, Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ and Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ to bloom in his garden.  The Lebanese Courtyard has roses planted with jasmine, lavenders and other scented plants. In another small garden, A Highland Retreat, planting is bold and formal in blues, purples and pinks, with lush Scottish roses.

Designer predictions
„X Jinny Blom thinks that we will increasingly be focusing on beautiful British building crafts, such as stone walling. 

„X Chris Beardshaw predicts we will see more composed and orchestrated plantsmanship with a rediscovery of the art of planting design.

„X Andy Sturgeon thinks that the next ‘must have’ plant will be orange eremurus.

„X Topically, Dean Herald, Fleming’s Nurseries Float garden, says that this season’s ‘must have’ plants are drought tolerant and low maintenance plants with good architectural and sculptural qualities.

„X Nick William-Ellis, The Jurassic Coast Garden, anticipates that small-scale, productive gardening of vegetables, herbs and fruit will be the next trend.   He also expects alstroemerias to be more widely grown because of the extraordinary length of their flowering season.

„X Stephen Woodhams, Barnsley House Spa Garden, thinks that anything that flowers green or orange will be big for this season.  He expects that Betula, especially B. utilis var. jacquemontii will be the must have tree.

„X Casper Gabb, The Green Room, cites ‘must have’ plants as Dianella caerulea ‘Cassa Blue’, Tetrapanax papyrifera ‘Rex’

„X David Domoney simply says that foliage is the new flower.