How to update your garden on a budget

July 8th, 2018
Posted In: Gardening on a budget

If you want to update your garden on a budget, RHS Hampton Court Flower Show has lots of good ideas.

There are, of course, the top show gardens, where the budget is way over anything you or I could manage.

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2018

The fountains at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show – it’s a beautiful setting.

But even those have ideas you can copy without breaking the bank. Here is my pick of the best budget-friendly ideas at a recent ‘Hampton Court’.

Update your garden with vibrant colour

The Bizzy Lizzie, formerly the most municipal of bedding plants, has had a makeover, courtesy of B&Q.

How to update your garden on a budget with cheap bedding colour

Blocks of inexpensive bedding plants – the new Busy Lizzies – teamed with large leafed ‘exotic’ plants for a contemporary jungle look.

No-one mourned when it disappeared from the shelves due to a virus. And I wasn’t particularly interested to hear that B&Q had developed a virus-resistant variety, the Imara Bizzy Lizzie.

Imara Bizzy Lizzies - inexpensive bedding plants to team with exotics

Bizzy Lizzies teamed with fashionable spikes…

But top marks to the B&Q team for showing what you can do with standard bedding by planting it in big blocks and teaming it with exotic plants.

Update your garden by resurrecting old favourites

Are there other plants you’ve begun to take for granted? Fuschias, for example, or dahlias? The great fun of today’s gardens is that ‘knock your socks off’ seems to be replacing quiet good taste.

Go for it. Add a few new varieties of familiar, easy-to-look after plants to add instant zing to your garden. Such plants are usually easy to find and buy, which means you can update your garden without spending too much money.

Add zing to your garden with a vibrant flower, such as Dahlia Fashion Monger.

Dahlia ‘Fashion Monger’ from the National Dahlia Collection’s stand. Is it time to say goodbye to restraint in the garden for a while….?

Add an exotic touch with familiar fuschias.

Update your garden with flower colour. Fuschias from Roualeyn Fuschias fairground carousel-themed stand.

Make an impact with size

Plant one big vibrant pot rather than lots of little ones

A huge pink tub of matching pink Bizzy Lizzies on the B&Q show garden at RHS Hampton Court. One big pot is easier to look after than lots of little ones.

Fill one large planter and make a statement, rather than planting lots of little ones up. It’s also easier to water, as small pots need watering daily. Big ones hold water better.

These pink Nurgul pots from B&Q cost between £17 and £68.

You could also paint any big plastic pot in a vibrant colour.  Use a specialist plastic primer, such as Rust-oleum Plastic Primer Spray Paint . You can then paint any colour or brand of paint on top.

(Note: links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy through them, but it doesn’t affect the price you pay. Other links are not affiliate.)

Paint your fence or shed a stunning colour

There were some wonderful fence and wall colours this year at Hampton Court. This is a look that we could all mimic.

Paint your fence or wall for a budget-friendly makeover.

A strong sunshine yellow makes a dramatic backdrop for a courtyard. In the Santa Rita 120 garden.

Blue is good garden colour.

And duck egg blue is still a garden favourite. From the Community Brain ‘vegetable box’ garden.

Many top garden designers also suggest that you paint your fence dark, especially if you have a small urban garden. Award-winning garden designer Charlotte Rowe and her design director Tomoko Kawauchi talk about this in 5 top garden design tips and 2 mistakes to avoid.

Update your garden with a spiky plant (or two)

The jungle look has well and truly arrived, and there were spiky plants everywhere at this year’s RHS Hampton.

You could buy an agave…although it might poke you in the bottom as you bend over to weed.

Add spiky plants to update your garden

The Santa Rita 120 ‘Living La Vida’ garden at RHS Hampton Court, complete with agaves, agapanthus and other sculptural planting.

Keep agaves in pots for a contemporary look

Buy a smaller agave, such as this Agave parryi from Palms-Exotics, and keep it in a pot.

Buy ‘exotics’ that will survive your weather…

The most budget-friendly way of acquiring exotic plants is to choose ones that will survive, so you won’t have to keep replacing them.

The Chusan Palm, or Trachycarpus Fortunei is less prickly and will over-winter in most UK and Northern hemisphere gardens, provided that it is sheltered from winds. Around £10 for a small one from Palms-Exotics.

And you can find cordylines very reasonably in most markets. And they seem to survive anything, judging by the neglected cordylines I see on the streets.

Dasylirions are hardy plants for exotic-looking gardens

Carex ‘Feather Falls’ is an exotic-looking grass but it will withstand heat and frost, and it grows well in most environments.

If you can be patient, it’s always cheaper to buy smaller and let it grow – but there is the worry that ‘exotic’ may have passed by the time it gets large. Pick fast growers like Carex ‘Feather Falls.’

Pines are back…

Pines used to remind me of my parents’ home in Camberley (Surrey) rather than fashionable exoticism. But they are beautiful sculptural plants that have been over-looked, perhaps because they’re evergreen.

It’s definitely time to add a pine or two – buy them small and keep them in pots. Then you can plant them out – if you like – when they have grown.

Grow pines in pots, then plant them out

Pines in pots are affordable and even spiritual…From Limes Cross Nursery stand.

Update your garden with recycling

Don’t take those old kids’ bikes to the tip. Paint them and use them as garden features.

Recycle for unusual garden features.

A row of children’s bikes, painted and used to edge a garden at RHS Hampton Court.

Children's bikes used as garden edging at RHS Hampton Court

The full row of bikes…

Turn old clothes into a scarecrow

I loved the RHS Primary School children’s scarecrow competition.

There are more recycling and upcycling garden ideas in 15 ways to transform your garden with upcycled junk. And have a look at 5 really obvious ways to make your garden better.

Buy (or find) extra water butts

One water butt really does not save you money on water. It only lasts about a week into a drought. But I like these four tiers of water butts from the RHS Grow Your Own with Raymond Blanc Gardening School. I’d have lids on the butts in case small mammals fall in, though. You may be able to find old water butts via Freegle (or Freecycle).

Use several water butts if you want to save money. One is never enough.

Four tiers of water butts at the Raymond Blanc Gardening School at RHS Hampton Court. If you’re interested in watering solutions, check out The quick and easy guide to holiday watering.

Self-watering guttering system at RHS Hampton Court

This ‘self-watering’ guttering system looks fun. I’m not convinced it’s practical, but let me know if you’ve tried it. Also at the Raymond Blanc Gardening School.

Embrace your inner ‘cottage garden’

The big message from the shows for several years now, from the Ascot Garden Show right through to RHS Chelsea and beyond, is that flowers are really important now.

Pick plants for pollinators

Echinacea ‘Lelani’ from Hardys Cottage Garden Plants at RHS Hampton Court – echinacea and other cottage garden plants are brilliant for wildlife.

If you want your garden to look contemporary, fill it with flowers. Lots of the same sort, or lots of different ones…it’s hard to get it wrong. Choose flowers that do well for you or try experiments.

Cottage garden plants are now contemporary

Alcea ‘Halo Apricot’ from Daisy’s Roots.

I have a stylish garden designer friend who refers to gardens with a mix of flowers and colours as ‘fruit salad gardens’. It does not sound like a compliment. Not the way she says it, anyway.

But a riot of colour, attracting birds and pollinators, is what gardens are about now. And because there are few ‘rules’, it’s relatively easy to achieve on a budget. See this post for more about how to achieve cottage garden style.

Plant varied flowers and colours to help pollinators

Ann-marie Powell’s planting for the Countryfile 30th Anniversary garden at Hampton Court.

And if you have to update your garden on a budget, plants can be the most cost-effective way of doing it. Swap, grow from seed or pick up bargains in nurseries and the market.

Find more inspiration from show gardens in Curved Gardens are Back In A Big Way and 12 contemporary garden ideas.

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Update your garden with the latest ideas from RHS Hampton Court Flower Show #gardenideas #gardening



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