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Follower of fashion The spring shows start this month and Elly West is thinking beauty, practicality and time-honoured, as well as trendy
pringtime in the gardening calendar: I love it. Colour is everywhere as bulbs burst open and herbaceous perennials reveal themselves again after a winter rest, with fresh new foliage and the promise of more to come. All is green and vibrant, and any sunny days encourage us to get outside and get going on our gardens. Easter is traditionally the busiest time for garden retailers, and with it falling so late this year, it’s set to be a very different story from last year – which was three weeks behind and hot (or cold!) on the heels of the Beast from the East. I also love spring for the shows, which start this month with RHS Cardiff in Bute Park. It’s less than an hour from Bristol, and with the bridge now dispensing with its toll, it’s even easier to enjoy a great day out. If you want to discover new trends and gain inspiration for your own garden, as well as finding some bargains, the shows are a good place to start. See the opposite page for details on what is coming up in the next few months. In my work as a garden designer I see all different types of gardens and no two jobs (or clients) are the same, which is one of the reasons that I love what I do. And while it’s important to keep up with what is deemed ‘fashionable’ and what new products are on the market, there are certain themes that recur time and time again, not because they are on-trend but because they are beautiful and practical. After all, gardens are for relaxing in and enjoying, and that doesn’t change. Traditional cottage gardens will perhaps never be out of fashion, but there are also easy ways to update a scheme and keep it contemporary, so this month I will look at predicted trends for this year, certain to be in evidence at the various gardening shows. Wellbeing and mindfulness are buzzwords that have filtered into our gardens, and the Royal Horticultural Society has recently announced a three-year partnership with the NHS to highlight the benefits of gardens, gardening and green spaces on our health. RHS Chatsworth has introduced a new category of ‘mindfulness gardens’ at this year’s show. “Academic research has converged with years of anecdotal evidence to demonstrate the positive effect of gardens on 92 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE
mental and physical health,” says RHS horticultural projects manager Ben Brace, “and this is now being widely reflected in garden design.” At RHS Cardiff, the National Botanic Garden of Wales’ Gardd Lles (‘wellbeing garden’ in Welsh) provides secluded seating areas for contemplation. A place to sit in quietness and harmony with the surroundings is high on many of my clients’ wish lists, perhaps with the sound of running water nearby. Calming palettes of whites, blues and pinks are perennially popular, as are plants that provide fragrance, texture and movement.
...Certain themes recur time and again. After all, gardens are for relaxing in and enjoying, and that doesn’t change... Lots of designers have increasingly been using wildflowers, native flowers and meadow planting in their plans, and this trend is set to continue. I love to include areas of meadow in the gardens I design, even if it’s just strip edging a more formal lawn. Rolling out readymade, pre-planted turf seems to have good, reliable results. It will flower through the summer and just requires an annual chop in autumn, so provides a low-maintenance option for covering an area with beautiful flowers that will attract pollinators and wildlife. This looser style of planting is also achievable in borders, by mixing perennials and grasses, some providing a permanent structure and others dying back in winter. In terms of colours, those restful pastel shades will always be ontrend in my view, and at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, greens, whites and pale yellows are set to dominate, along with splashes of
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