What are the trends in 2019’s garden shows?

Yes it’s that time of year again, with a few major shows like Chelsea Flower Show and Gardeners World Flower Show already under our belt and some great ones coming up like Hampton Court Garden Festival and Tatton Park Flower show.

We thought it would be fun to see if any trends are emerging and it didn’t take long to see that yes, among all the obligatory water features and riven stone patios there are two very distinctive trends that really stand out.

If we could sum these up they might be ‘back to nature’ and ‘eco-gardens’. These two trends are very strongly related and sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. This makes highly possible to be right on trend with both of these in the same garden design!

Both trends have been around for a while now, but have sometimes been seen as a bit fringe, possibly a bit whacky. Well that’s all over as they have moved firmly into centre stage this year and scooped up some top awards.

Green gardening is getting bigger

Wild meadows

Wild meadows give an authentic, natural feel to the Thames Water Flourishing Garden. Hampton Court Garden Festival. Designed by Tony Woods.

From the Thames Water Flourishing Future Garden at Hampton Court to the RHS Garden for wildlife: Wild Woven at Chatsworth Flower Show there’s strong interest in all aspects of eco-gardening. Even more conventionally designed beauties like Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Morgan Stanley at Chelsea on closer inspection proves to be designed throughout to ensure the lightest of environmental impact.

Echoing our recent blog about insect friendly gardens it’s really inspiring to see the message getting through that not only is it important to do as much as we can for our alarmingly declining insect life, but you can have a beautiful garden at the same time. One of the most significant ways we can support insect life is by growing local native plants. Designing a garden like this then crosses smoothly over to our second trend…

Back to Nature – keeping it real

Welcome to Yorkshire by Mark Gregory

A slice of Yorkshire canal-side comes to Chelsea in this ambitious build for Welcome to Yorkshire by Mark Gregory.

Like the green theme this has been getting stronger for a few years now and this year it really comes to the fore. We’re talking about gardens like The Watchmakers Garden, Gardeners World Platinum winner, or the Welcome To Yorkshire Garden that won Chelsea gold. Here we see some of the top garden designers going to extraordinary lengths to design a garden that, for some, doesn’t even look like a garden. A stretch of rough canal, or a massive lock gate are not the usual kind of garden. At first sight these gardens don’t even seem to have been designed, but rather pulled out of their setting and dumped into the show ground. But don’t be fooled. These gardens are meticulously and inventively designed.

How will back to nature, authenticity and eco-consciousness play out in our own gardens?

These trends are here to stay. Expect much more focus on the overall impact of our gardens on nature and the environment. From where materials are sourced, to the choice of plants, to close attention to local materials, botany and geography our gardens are set to change significantly over the next few years. We’re delighted with this development, we’ve been putting this approach into practice in our garden designs for a long time now and welcome its ascent to this year’s medal winning sweep.

Are we all going hair shirt and scruffy now?

Absolutely not. We know that some people will find the actual look of some of these show gardens really not what they want. But as the Morgan Stanley garden shows, and many of our designs do as well, you can still have a very finely polished design reflecting other equally exciting trends like modernism, yet with all the eco-concerns very strongly there  – but tucked neatly under the bonnet. It’s our belief that a good garden design can look pretty much however you want it to and still be eco-sensitive and have an intelligent conversation with the locality.

Don’t mistake this tousled look for lack of design!

Morgan Stanley Garden, Chelsea. Designed by Chris Beardshaw

Morgan Stanley Garden, Chelsea. Designed by Chris Beardshaw. Eco doesn’t have to mean shaggy!

If you love the wild look of some of these gardens a quick word of warning – it takes just as much skill, knowledge and experience to achieve this look as any other garden design. The answer is definitely not to just let it grow. You will most certainly regret the results and then have an almighty task to recover your garden from your experiment. We say (well of course we would but it doesn’t change how true it is!) get a designer in!