By Dawn Isaac
Each year the world’s most famous flower show makes headlines with its eye-catching show gardens, but how practical is it to recreate one of these in your own back garden? The short answer is: it’s possible, but very, very pricey. Six figure budgets are the norm at Chelsea and quarter of a million isn’t unusual. Why so expensive? Well, you have to remember this is catwalk, not high street territory. Designers are setting trends and pushing boundaries so, by definition, they aren’t going to be getting much off the shelf at the local builders’ merchant or garden centre. And as Saville Row tailors will tell you, bespoke is going to cost. And then there’s the ‘instant’ nature of the space. The Chelsea show ground is, for most of the year, a flat field with nothing to see but grass. Yet in less than a month it becomes home to dozens of gardens, complete with buildings, boundaries and plantings that look like they’ve been there forever. The amount of labour, materials and plants this involves adds up to an eye-watering bill. Still, if a Chelsea-inspired backyard is what you’re after, we have plenty of ideas for you to tap into.
1. House walls dominate
2. Plastic toys lack the Chelsea glamour
3. Washing lines and satellite dishes aren't exactly SW1
4. Off the shelf paving lacks the over-sized designer look
Create a pleached screen
Chelsea gardens are renowned for their high walls and hedge screening – after all you never know who will be next to you on Main Avenue. Lime or hornbeam are best for training.
Forget figurines from your local garden centre, we’re talking big, expensive and one-off creations: something to get the neighbours talking.
Plumb in a water feature
Why have one trough when you can have two? And don't forget to paint the inside midnight black to get the perfect reflecting pool effect.
Plant up a living wall
Patrick Blanc comes to suburbia with this two-storey living wall – a tapestry of green supported by a state of the art irrigation system... obviously.
Lay an oversized stone
You can’t get away with your basic 60x60cm slabs. It will need to be something enormous, made to your personal specifications direct from a quarry... preferably in Italy.
Get Power Pots
No pint-sized containers here – a show garden pot needs to make a statement, preferably in triplicate. Preferably with grasses or irises in them.
Add neat clumps of moss
This isn’t just moss, this is Chelsea manicured moss, carefully placed between each line of paving.
Choose designer furniture
You may have to sacrifice some comfort, because in a Chelsea-inspired garden it's more important that your furniture is a work of art. By a named designer.
Pack in the plants
Forget buying plants in twos and threes, we’ll be needing them by the hundred to achieve that ‘full to bursting with blooms’ signature look.
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