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Chelsea, 2016: the future’s bright – the future’s orange

What were the major trends on show at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show? What plants have found favour and what colours are hot this season? Well, here are Ladybrook Nursery’s thoughts on the world’s most famous gardening and plant show. Here are just a few of the things that caught our eye.

Colour

The first thing we noticed is that garden designers and plant growers are still pretty keen on muted, rustic colours. Last year’s trend shows no sign of slowing down there. However, garden designers have, this year, also underscored the muted autumn colours with splashes of bright and bold colour, particularly orange and copper. Orange planting featured in many of the show gardens; whether that was in soft and subtle undertones, or bold and electrifying swathes of colour. It would appear from its widespread use that the future is definitely orange as far as gardens designers are concerned.

Plants

Well, last year’s show favourites, Foxgloves, Geums and Lupins still found favour amongst the garden designers. It seems their popularity is now almost universal. Other plants that were popular at this year’s show were:

  • Paeonies
  • Roses
  • Alliums
  • Achillea
  • Irises
  • Lavender

The most popular and widely-used plants in the show were:

  • Brown Iris ‘Kent Pride’ – particularly in the many gardens that featured orange and copper
  • Pines in various forms, featured heavily throughout the show, particularly in 3 of the show gardens. However, they were lacking in the Grand Pavillion
  • Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’
  • Angelica gigas
  • Briza media
  • Salvia nemorosa

Box Hedging featured in eight of the gardens including Charlie Albone’s ‘The Husqvarna Garden’: however, many clipped alternatives to box, such as yew and bay, were also used.

Ferns proved to be popular with some designers, whilst others turned to plants like Bracken and Horsetail to add beauty to a garden. Oak trees also featured predominantly with designers like Cleve West.

Trends

This year’s predominant show trend was, once again natural planting. It was a firm favourite last year, too, with Dan Pearson’s Chatsworth-inspired Lauren-Perrier rock garden winning best in show. At this year’s show many garden designers tried to make this naturalistic planting scheme more achievable for the domestic gardener; bringing nature to the city centre and featuring natural designs that easily sitting comfortably in urban environments. That trend was certainly evident in James Basson’s ‘L’Occitane Garden’, Cleve West’s ‘M&G Garden’ and Rosy Hardy’s ‘Brewin Dolphin – Forever Freefolk Garden’: the gardens recreated the spirit of Provence, Exmoor and Hampshire respectively, and translating those to urban environments.

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