As ever, my travelling schedule has been super intense between my QVC shows, as I’ve been busy with photoshoots, meetings, admin, filming for a very famous morning programme and of course, the world’s greatest flower show, Chelsea!
I am really missing not having a large garden at the moment, but Chelsea really helps to keep my horticultural appetite topped up! I am extremely fortunate to be able to visit this amazing flower show on press day too, when the pathways are super quiet and there’s a real serene feeling around the show ground, with only the chatter of plant geeks punctuating the floral air.
If you’ve been lucky to visit, or have caught some of the excellent coverage on television, then you’ll know a little about the show this year, and may have picked up on some of the trends. Let’s look at a few ideas from the show, and how they could inspire us to plant up our own gardens this summer.
Oh my gosh, Lupins were EVERYWHERE, from citrus coloured to deep sexy purple ones. These classic perennials have had quite a journey, as they’ve gone from a dreamy cottage garden specimen to an edgy modern designer plant! Bees love their peppery fragrance and sweet nectar too!
Lupin hybrids were first displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show by plant breeder George Russell way back in 1938, so they’ve really stood the test of time! Lupins are easy to grow on a normal, well-drained soil, not too rich, and avoid planting it beneath trees. Watch out for virus, however – moving your plants to a fresh site can often overcome this. You can even divide and share your plant clumps with friends each spring!
The Pantone Colour of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet and I was really recognising this colour palette as I toured the show ground, from the sparkly joy of Alliums to the indulgent deep shades of Iris and Clematis. Violet seems to be a favourite for many people, so the designers were lapping up the chance to work with this vibrant shade.
Using purple and violet tones in the garden can be incredibly versatile. Pair them with the whites (made famous by the recent royal nuptials) or go wild by mixing them with some punchy orange and yellow vibes. Don’t just relegate violet to the flower border though – how about refreshing an old wooden fence with a vibrant shade of paint, or pick up a few pieces of garden jewellery to pay homage to this colour of the year?
The extra dimension of water can really finish off a garden area or outdoor space, and the flower show certainly gave us plenty of inspiration. From trickling streams, almost hidden by shade-loving plants, to spectacular fountains and misty sprays, Chelsea was really championing the H2O this year!
Experts have recently confirmed that the sound of a water feature can encourage outward thinking, rather than introspection, so you really can see your worries washed away. Even in the age of ornate mansions being built, the upper classes were requesting that artificial ponds and lakes were part of the landscape, as their serene atmosphere was so prized.
Get a taste of the high class with a water feature in your own outdoor space, and check out my tips here. Some of the very popular lightweight fountains can work without any wiring or special set-ups, and fit a balcony or any size of garden.
A few of the gardens at the Chelsea show had a dream-like quality, with frothy planting, pinks, whites and the aforementioned violet-purple tones. Aged rusty gates and stone walls added to the effect, and it was all pointing towards the wabi-sabi, which I’ve identified previously as a hot new trend. Wabi-sabi is the ancient Japanese Buddhist practice of allowing nature to shape and change man-made objects, so it’s all about letting moss grow on pathways, allowing metal to rust, plants to grow where they shouldn’t, and so on… it’s all very romantic!
Romance your own outdoor space with the addition of plants such as the Shuttlecock Fern.
I’ve been involved in the Plant of the Year contest most years now, but wasn’t presenting any entries this year, so I could sit back and soak up the atmosphere a bit more. I tipped the ‘Sunbelievable’ Sunflower and Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ for top places, and well, I was right. Hydrangea Runaway Bride came first place at the show, thanks to many factors: the new trailing habit, the high quality of the plant, the innovative aspects, and I reckon the royal wedding twist helped too! Tune in to QVC on 10th June to see the launch of this amazing plant, along with your chance to buy one for your own garden!
Second place was Eryngium ‘Blue Waves’, with the ‘Sunbelievable’ Sunflower coming third! I must know my stuff! The Sunflower has been on QVC previously and you guys loved it – it has the potential to give 1000 blooms during the summer, and is multi-branching and great for containers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little sneaky look at the world’s greatest flower show, and will have fun incorporating some of the ideas into your own outdoor space! Keep up to date with my travels and shows here on Q Gossip, and across on my own website, on the exclusive ‘QVC Hub’.