Seven super ideas from the Chelsea Flower Show - that you can do this weekend

Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is full to bursting with great ideas for your garden. From planting schemes to ornamental structures, if you have a blank canvas in your back yard then Chelsea will help you fill it.

But for those with less grand designs, Chelsea can also provide inspiration for quick and easy improvements. The Great Pavilion, in particular, has a wonderful array of plants to fill dull spots in your garden, and includes plenty of new introductions. This year’s debut plants included a new chive ‘Cha Cha’, Clematis ‘Chelsea’, Iris ‘Nelly Tardivier’ and Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis ‘Soft Caress’ which won the show’s ‘Plant of the Year’ award.

We’ve scoured the show for fresh ideas for your garden which you could do in one weekend (actually most of them will only take an hour or two). Here are our top seven:

  1. Make use of old building supply bulk bags by planting them up. They’re brilliant as raised beds for vegetables because they allow for a really deep soil level (particularly good for things like potatoes). If you don’t need the soil to be so deep then simply roll down the top of the bags to the level you want, or fill the base of the bag with polystyrene and top up with compost. Perfect for urban designs.
  2. If you have a shallow pool or water feature then consider painting it black, or sticking a shiny black liner to the interior. Pop a few light-coloured plants around it and you’ll find that the black reflects the colours and shapes of the garden back at you.
  3. Our first idea thanks to the Sparsholt College display is a handy way to use pleated paper lampshades to cheaply change houseplant pots which no longer match your colour scheme. Simply turn the shade upside down and put the pot into it.
  4. Long chain ornaments are very popular at the moment, but this idea from the Interflora display adds a new dimension by incorporating real flowers in tiny vases. You can replicate the same look in your own garden. If you can’t find small vases then you can use test tubes for single stems or fluted shot/sherry glasses for mini arrangements. Attach them to your ornament using garden wire.
  5. This year’s NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children) garden included large cobble stones with messages painted on to them. Why not create your own for your family sayings, names or wishes? It’s a great idea for kids. Use acrylic (oil based) or enamel paint so that your artwork doesn’t wash away. If your designs are going to be walked on (eg if they are on cobbles in a path) you can use a clear sealant/varnish over the top to protect them.
  6. The second inspiration from Sparsholt College is this wonderful chair, where the seat padding has been replaced with herbs, though other plants such as sedums would be equally good for this. A base made from stout plastic should support the weight of the thin layer of compost the plants will grow in. You could even plant your seat with thyme or chamomile, which will survive being sat on – but if you intend to do this then ensure that the seat is reinforced, perhaps with a solid metal base (with drainage holds) or a strong metal grid.
  7. Transform your autumn or spring prunings into handy – and free – plant labels. A grafting knife is perfect for taking a slice out of the wood to make these attractive plant markers. Sharpen the other end to stick into the soil, or drill a hole if you want to hang it from a tree or shrub.