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New trends at Chelsea Flower Show; DESIGN GUIDE.

Byline: GAYNOR WITCHARD

Well, Chelsea is over again for another year. I haven't visited the show for two years, so I thought I would this year. I was eager to see what the show gardens had to offer in terms of style and plant combinations, and if any ideas from them could be used in our own gardens.

I wasn't disappointed.

The first thing I noticed was the use of water in the designs - from a modern rill and swimming pool, to shallow natural ponds. And I was particularly intrigued to see not just one water feature, but two or three in some gardens. Thomas Hoblyn's 'Cornish memories' design consisted of three sinuous rills flowing into plunge pool with three modern containers to the side full of water. Diarmuid Gavin's water was found in large shallow metal 'discs' and despite being seemingly over simple, these 'discs' could be found in several parts of the garden adding interest to different walkways and seating areas. In Robert Myers' garden for Cancer Research, linear pools, pebbles and rocks proved to be a very different way of interpreting a coastal style garden.

These different ways of using water can be adapted by simplifying their structure or size and I shall be thinking about water features in a different way in my designs too. The planting, for me, was also particularly striking this year. All very informal and 'loose' in style which was particularly evident in Cleve West's garden, the winner of 'Best Show Garden' this year. The same plants made several appearances in different gardens - notably Pinus sylvestris (Scot's pine), splashes of orange Geums and a variety of purples and greens. There was plenty of colour this year, but in a restrained thoughtful way.

The hard landscaping complemented each garden in its setting - granite surrounding modern pools, large boulders set among lush planting, dry stone walls around a comfortable, sheltered space and tall stone columns set against cobbled pathways. Permanent seating constructed from stone was very much in evidence instead of the usual free standing furniture, which was particularly pleasing. Unusual rusted metal walkways, gravel paths and natural paving all added to the structures in a coherent way. Glass made an appearance at the show this year, used as a raised platform for entertaining above Bunny Guinness' modern kitchen garden, as a roof over a seating area, or as a barrier surrounding Sarah Eberle's Monaco Garden swimming pool.

Not to leave out the stands selling deliciously scented soaps, picture perfect paintings, prints, fancy gardening gloves, boots and a plethora of other gardening ephemera.

I can't wait for Chelsea 2012!

Gaynor is the winner of the 2010 and 2011 RHS Cardiff Best in Show Garden. See www.witchardgardens.com

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Thomas Hoblyn's 'Cornish memories' design consisted of three sinuous rills flowing into plunge pool with three modern containers to the side full of water
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 4, 2011
Words:480
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