13 beautiful ideas for your garden from BBC Gardeners World Live 2019
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
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the Revelation Garden, there was a mosaic pebble path, which looked good.
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.
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.
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.
You can always see more of gardens in a video, so do have a longer look at some of these ideas here:
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