Hartley Magazine

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Take inspiration from Flower Show gardens

There are plenty of places gardeners can look to take inspiration on how to give their outdoor space a distinctive edge.

Events such as competitions are a prime example, as there are often a lot of unusual design and arrangement ideas on display. With the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show set to take place from May 22nd to the 26th, all eyes will be on the UK for the latest trends.

One of the offerings will be a new roof garden from landscape artist Alan Gardner entitled Out of the Blue. This is part of a brand new category called Fresh Gardens, which aims to encourage innovation.

It comprises three mounds of drought-tolerant planting set against decking and occasional outdoor seating arrangements. This is said to be in response to key contemporary issues such as the importance of biodiversity and sustainability. The first mound is made from slow-growing grass that has very low maintenance requirements and grows in a felt mat. Turf specialist Lindum is providing the greenery for the show.

Another section is created from a matrix of larger perennials and drought-tolerant grasses, while the final mound is a mixture of herbs, perennials, sedums and wildflowers. This is able to flourish in very dry conditions and is an excellent habitat for the pollinators of the natural world, such as bees, as well as a wide range of creatures such as birds and butterflies.

All the segments will be unified by a zig-zag structure of bright blue polypropylene string, which will create shadows and alternate perspectives according to the time of day and location of the viewer.

“My designs are all about simplicity with a twist,” said Mr Gardner – who has appeared in a major British television series on gardening and is praised for his highly original and innovative approach to landscaping.

While this would be impressive acclaim for any individual, it seems like a bigger achievement for someone who claims to have wanted to be a gardener from childhood – while growing up in the major city of Birmingham. This surely indicates the universal appeal of getting to work in the garden.

Floriade 2012

“Out of the Blue creates a calm, Zen-like roof garden that is both perfect to relax in and is environmentally sound. The polypropylene string structure contrasts sharply with the natural form of the planting and creates shade. With 360-degree access to this garden, visitors will be able to view it from many different perspectives throughout the day,” Mr Gardner commented.

This roof style is perfectly suited to urban gardeners or anyone else who wishes to do something creative with a relatively small space. No doubt this will be hugely popular in 2012, as the trend is expected to be successful throughout the year.

Susan McCoy, a trend spotter at the Garden Media Group, told the Vanguard that city-dwellers are increasingly keen to tap into lifestyles and activities traditionally associated with rural areas.

“Plants are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for our lives. Plants can live without us, but we can’t live without plants,” she commented.

Indeed, urban gardening does not necessarily mean the individual will have to rein in their choice of things to grow, as many plants require simple things such as plenty of water and sunlight, which can easily be provided by most individuals, no matter where they live.

Another welcome benefit of this action is that it can reduce the negative impact of pollutants – which is relevant to everyone as climate change issues are an increasingly hot topic. Green areas have been proven to reduce heat island effects and this is particularly pronounced when people plant with sustainability in mind.