13 beautiful ideas for your garden from BBC Gardeners World Live 2019

June 16th, 2019
Posted In: Garden style & living

I’ve seen a number of really pretty ideas for your garden at BBC Gardeners World Live.

What about trying naturalistic, all-green or cottage garden planting schemes? Do you fancy clever ideas with hard landscaping, some interesting water features and good front garden ideas?

If so, read on!

Planting ideas for your garden

Try an all-green easy maintenance planting scheme

The Gadd Brothers Getaway Garden was designed for busy professionals, so there are easy-care plants such as fatsia and ferns. The interest comes from the contrast of their leaves.

Many of the show gardens at BBC Gardeners World Live 2019 had almost all-green borders, with just one or perhaps two stand-out colours. Instead of mixed borders of flowers, interest came from the different shades and shapes of green leaves. It’s a very calm and natural look.

Grasses and reclaimed industrial materials in the High Line garden

Did you forget to mow the lawn? The grasses on the High Line garden, designed by Lucy Bravington, give movement to a mainly green planting scheme.

For example, here in the ‘Argent Front Garden’, designed by Professor David Stevens, much of the front garden interest comes from the differences in leaf shape and colour. ‘You see the front garden more than the back garden,’ says David Stevens, ‘so it needs year-round interest.’ While some leaves do disappear in winter, plants like fatsia and box are there all year round.

Use contrasting leaf shapes and colours for a long season of interest

Contrast the colours and shapes of leaves for a long season of interest in your borders. The Argent front garden, designed by Professor David Stevens.

Use contrast in leaf shape and shade rather than flower colour

A close up of the ‘Argent Garden’, designed by Professor David Stevens and executed by Reece McKay and Brian Hughes of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise.

Variegated leaves are back

The key to an all-green planting is to use variegated leaves. In moderation!

Around twenty years ago, there was a migraine-inducing amount of leaf variegation in gardens. Every plant was spotted or striped. So variegated plants such as euonymous ‘Silver Queen’ got a bad name. But nothing beats a variegated leaf for brightening up a dull corner.

And if you’re thinking of euonymous ‘Silver Queen’, it adds a bit of sparkle all year round.

Use one or two variegated foliage plants to brighten a border

A young Cornus Alba Elegantissima holds the stage here in the ‘Glimpse of South East Asia’ garden.

Use variegated leaves to add light and interest

Use variegated leaves, especially in a dingy spot – not that this Gadd Brothers Getaway Garden could ever be described as dingy.

Naturalistic planting ideas for your garden

I asked Chris Myers, designer of the Canals and Rivers Trust garden what ideas people could take away from his canal-side design and use in their own garden.

His reply was ‘don’t strim the edges of your lawn – let them grow long.’

Use raised beds for flowers as well as veg

Raised beds have gone beyond the veg patch. Note the shaggy edges to the grass in the Canals and Rivers Trust garden.

It’s a very attractive look. Although I think you would have to embrace it thoroughly and allow the edges to grow properly wild and long. Just a bit shaggy probably won’t have quite the impact. I am not sure that Mr Middlesize would approve, however.

Leave your lawn edges to grow long for a naturalistic look

The Canal and Rivers Trust garden designed by Chris Myers. Naturalistic planting and un-strimmed edges are all very well beside a canal, but would it work in a garden? I think so, but suspect you would still have to hoick out some of the worst weeds.

Cottage garden planting

If you want to be on the colourful side of naturalistic planting, then there’s a definite trend towards cottage garden planting. Although it’s not ‘naturalistic’, it is the way people plant their gardens naturally, cramming in every plant they’ve ever fallen in love with.

Cottage garden planting means a lively mix of plants and flowers. You’ll end up with lots of different flower colours and shapes to attract pollinators.

Mix flowers and vegetables in cottage garden planting

Mix lots of different kinds of flowers and vegetables in cottage garden planting

Grow fruit, veg and flowers together

And you can also mix veg and flowers in the same beds in cottage garden planting. The Dahlia Garden, designed by Jon Wheatley, mixed dahlias with vegetables.

Grow fruit, veg and flowers in the same beds

Cottage gardens were an important source of food in the past, so cabbages and flowers were grown alongside each other.

Combine planting with industrial or urban reclamation

Someone once told me that the best gardens always looked as if their owners had died three weeks earlier. One or two gardens at BBC Gardeners World Live looked as if their owners had died three years earlier.

You can achieve this romantic look by re-using and reclaiming industrial or urban architecture or items. Think grasses grown to their full height, self-seeded plants in crevices and garden furniture made of reclaimed bits and pieces.

Combine planting with reclaimed materials for a contemporary feel

Corten steel looks good in gardens. Here in the High Line garden, the idea is that nature is reclaiming its territory in an urban environment. I think that Mr Middlesize, who is 6’4″, would have a bit of a problem with the circular ‘moon gate’, though.

The High Line garden, based on New York’s High Line public garden, and designed by Lucy Bravington, was a very good example of this. It’s very green, with naturalistic planting. And its corten steel fire pit and reclaimed materials bench fit perfectly.

I also loved parts of the Revelation garden, designed by Mike Baldwin. It had lots of ideas in it. One was a pair of huge gates with wilderness planting behind them. It’s as if a great house had vanished, leaving only its walls and gates behind. Very Secret Garden.

Leave a patch of your garden to turn into a wilderness

Big gates with a wilderness garden behind them in the Revelation Garden by Mike Baldwin

And the distressed shed in the Canal and Rivers Trust garden also fitted into this theme. You could probably distress your shed. Or just wait….

Try the 'distressed shed' look

This pretty distressed shed in the Canal and Rivers Trust garden combines with cottage garden planting.

Add colour with pots or furniture

There were several gardens which added colour by using bright cushions or pots. This seems like an excellent way of having year-round colour and being able to control it.

Add colour with garden furniture or pots

Bright orange cushions added a pop of colour to the Harborne Botanics garden.

And all the better if it’s a vibrant colour. Orange is at the opposite end of green on the colour wheel, so add a vibrant pop of colour to the green with orange cushions or pots.

Use coloured pots to add interest

These white and colour planters in the Macmillan Legacy Garden, designed by Martyn Wilson, add interest.

Raised beds in front gardens

Professor David Stevens designed the two front gardens for the Young Landscapers Award competition. Two teams then executed the briefs. Both front gardens have raised beds. ‘They’re easier to look after and you raise the planting up to where you can enjoy it.’

Try raised beds in your front garden instead of a fence or wall

Good front garden ideas – raised beds instead of a fence or wall for a front garden.

It also occurs to me that raised beds could be a good substitute for a fence or hedge – they delineate your area clearly and stop people wandering across your patch. But they are more colourful and interesting than a hedge.

Realism in water features

Is this the ‘naturalistic’ trend trickling down to water features? If you’ll excuse my pun.

Horse statues galloping through a pond in the Revelation Garden.

These lifesize horse statues are ‘galloping’ through the pond. The water foams realistically around some of the hooves – an interesting touch. In the Revelation Garden by Mike Baldwin. This would be too big for middle-sized gardens, but I like the idea of water moving in this way.

There were alot of ponds and water features at BBC Gardeners World Live. The most stunning was a display of carved wooden horses galloping through a pond. The water swirls around the hooves of some of the horses, adding to the sense of movement. I’m not sure I could quite fit it into my middle-sized garden, but it was very impressive.

There were also a number of trickling streams and water falls.

Hard landscaping ideas for your garden

If you’re laying a path, pond, driveway, patio or other surface, then consider using several different kinds of material. This, too, links to the naturalistic and eco-friendly side of gardening today.

Combine different hard landscaping materials for an interesting effect

Mixed materials in this path and patio in the Glimpse of South East Asia garden. Stone pavers are mixed with stones and pebbles. It’s one of the most attractive ideas for your garden, I think.

Covering your front garden or back terrace with a swathe of concrete or with continous pavers concreted together is linked to flash flooding in towns and cities. Concrete can’t soak up rainwater so when there’s lots of rain it all floods into the drainage system, over-loading it.

Mix hard landscaping materials in your garden

A mix of bricks, gravel and pavers on the forecourt of the Argent front garden, designed by David Stevens and executed by Reece McKay and Brian Hughes of CAFRE.

Too much non-permeable hard landscaping also affects soil health, because worms can’t live under acres of paving. But the designs at BBC Gardeners World Live showed that you can have very attractive solutions by varying your paving. It is important to note, however, that some gravel is not permeable, because it has to be set on a concrete base. Discuss permeable paving with your supplier.

Or make paths with gaps

This is related to the above. It’s better for wildlife and the environment if your paving has gaps between pavers. And it looks good too.

Have gaps between your pavers when laying a path

The Watchmakers Garden, designed by Alexandra Froggatt, won Best in Show. The path is a simple one, made of standard pavers with gaps in between so that water can drain away.

In the Revelation Garden, there was a mosaic pebble path, which looked good.

A mosaic path in the Revelation Garden

A mosaic path in the Revelation garden.

Curves in garden design

It can be difficult to plant around curves in smaller gardens, because you can create pinch points where there is very little room for planting. But curves do look good and there were a number of gardens showing how to have curves in small town gardens.

There were subsequently even more curved garden designs at RHS Hampton Court a few weeks later.  I think winding paths, arches and other curves appeal to people at a very fundamental level.

Try a circular bed in the middle of your garden

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush avoids difficult ‘pinch point’ planting by having a circular bed in the middle and wide curving beds at the sides.

There was Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, designed by Hana Leonard, combines traditional planting and contemporary materials. It gets round the pinch point problem by having the circle in the middle, with big beds around the edges.

Try a curved path or bench.

Curved paths, bench and water feature (just in sight at the top). In the Revelation Garden

Bean bags in gardens

I don’t know if you’ve got a bean bag for your garden yet? There were quite a few in show gardens at BBC Gardeners World Live. I didn’t try any out, though.

Bean bags in the Getaway Garden

Bean bags in the Gadd Brothers Getaway Garden.

You can always see more of gardens in a video, so do have a longer look at some of these ideas here:

Shop my favourite gardening books, tools and products…

As people often ask me for recommendations, I’ve put together lists of the gardening products I use for The Middlesized Garden Amazon store. For example, if you’re buying garden tools from scratch, here is a list of essential garden tools and the brands I use or which have been highly recommended by others.

And if you’re interested in making your garden more wildlife friendly, then read my post on What Makes a Good Wildlife Garden or go to my list of wildlife friendly garden products.

Pin to remember ideas for your garden

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Ideas for your garden from BBC Gardeners World Live



One comment on "13 beautiful ideas for your garden from BBC Gardeners World Live 2019"

  1. Margaret Whitmarsh says:

    Memories of my visit.

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