Garden Trends:
Chelsea Flower
Show 2024

We had the pleasure of attending the Chelsea Flower Show on Tuesday 21st May, whilst we may have had to dodge a few showers, we saw some stunning gardens and picked up on some key trends for the year you can add to your own garden to ensure summer 24 is one filled with colour and tranquillity. 

Trend 1: The colour purple

The colour purple featured strongly this year and was the main colour for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it was seen as an accent on banners and signage throughout the event. Purple was also a key feature throughout many of the gardens with bright purple flowers being used to catch your eye against green landscapes, particularly poppies and irises.

Ways to add purple to your garden

A key flower that was prominent at the event was a rich plum-purple poppy. Why not add these to your garden borders? On the opposite colour spectrum, oranges work well with purple flowers.

A great option if you want to bring in contrasting colours is Geum Total Tangerine if you want a bright pop. Otherwise, if you want to utilise a similar colour palette, look for complimentary colours such as other purple tones, reds, pinks and blues.

A top tip if you are going for brighter colours, if you have border planting next to a fence, look to paint the fence a dark colour to make the colours really stand out.

purple flowers in garden
garden with outside table and chairs

Trend 2: Human-centred garden Design

A trend we saw throughout the show was more of a focus on how people can make the most of their garden. Baz Grainger’s “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees” was designed with family in mind to provide outdoor seating, dining and relaxation space for families to come together. The tall planting surrounding the seating and stone walls next to the dining area help to zone the two spaces, separating their functionality, and providing two immersive spaces with different ways to enjoy the garden.

The Planet Good Earth garden designed by Betongpark & Urban Organic is another example of putting people at the centre of design. Designed as a get-together space for skateboarding and other wheeled sports, supporting physical activity and developing meaningful relationships in a natural and engaging setting. A granite skate ramp forms the central focus of the garden, with native and exotic planting, and culinary and medicinal herbs surrounding the ramp.

How to make your garden work for you?

  • Think about the space and what you use your garden for
  • Write a list of your garden wish list, listing what you would like to have in this space, is it a barbeque area or a seating area? This will help you find the most important factors of what you would like in the space.
  • Planting- think about if you have a seating area, think about other elements such as scent, having not only beautiful planting but also adding scented plants such as jasmine to fully engage your senses in your garden.
  • Do you need shading in your garden? Perhaps think about planting for shading such as having a tree canopy or a planted pergola.

Trend 3: Designing with wellbeing and recovery in mind

Countless research has proven the benefits of time spent outdoors for both our physical and mental health. This year, there was a key focus on promoting mental and physical wellbeing while also creating greater awareness of the charities supporting the garden designers.

John Warland & Emma O’Connell’s Freedom from Torture Garden is a place of sanctuary where the smooth willow sculptural curves enwrap visitors and provide spaces for users to engage in 1-1, group or family therapy.

peaceful garden

Another example is World Child Cancer’s Nurturing Garden by Giulio Giorgi, designed to bring hope and escapism for children undergoing cancer treatment. The garden offers a diverse sensory experience through fragrant herbs, soft-touch plants, and vibrant flowers. The resilient plants symbolise the children undergoing treatment. The reclaimed brick path provides a path through the garden while the central seating area creates a peaceful resting place for children and their families, supporting emotional wellbeing.

The Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden by Chris Hull & Sid Hill focuses on health, for people, plants and all life, taking inspiration from human cultures that have tended to thriving ecosystems for their nourishment. The Thoughtful edible plantings offer a probiotic feast that nourishes the human microbiome, helping safeguard against a myriad of bowel-related ailments and cultivating a healthier future for all.

How to incorporate wellbeing into your garden?

  • Like in the Bowel Research UK Microbiome garden, you can source medicinal and edible plants which nourish the human biome. You may like to grow edibles, such as vegetables and fruits which are healthy and nutritional
  • Studies have shown that being in nature benefits your mental health, so make sure to design with nature in mind.
  • A private secluded area for contemplation, this may be a secluded seating area or a bench under a tree with key views or places where you can hear bird song. Think about what helps you to relax and incorporate this into your design.
vibrant green garden

Trend 4: Climate change and sustainability

While we often associate gardens to be made up of mostly landscaping and planting, gardens can be useful vessels for water collection and flooding prevention, factors often forgotten when creating gardens.

Naomi Slade and Dr Ed Barsley’s The Flood Resilient Garden featured many great examples of slowing water flow, water collection and storing for future use, using rain chains to direct water, large water tank fountains to spread and guide the water, and a swale running through the garden to channel water into a feature pond.

The WaterAid Garden, designed by Tom Massey and Je Ahn, contained plant species adapted to cope with fluctuating rainfall levels, including Menyanthes trifoliata (bogbean) and Hesperaloe parviflora (red yucca).

How to add sustainability to your garden

  • Add green roofs to your home or out buildings
  • Water harvesting and use – rain drains, water butts
  • Right plant, right place – make sure your plants are located where they will thrive, use water loving plants for areas of greater damp, find out what your plants like.
  • Adding some water elements, such as fountains, are great for biodiversity.
  • Take up the ‘no mow May’ challenge and let your lawns grow and thrive until the end of May, improving biodiversity.
  • Add flowers that butterflies, bees and other insects will love.
  • Don’t use insecticides! No insects, no planet
  • Consider planting natural berry hedgerows that birds can feed off of in the winter, providing a food source and providing a nesting place.

Trend 5: Making garden’s family-friendly

Gardening is just for adults! The RHS’s new gardening for schools scheme encourages young people to go outside and enjoy gardening. This was also brought into the Chelsea Flower Show, demonstrating how gardens can be adapted or even created by children to provide fun and interactive outdoor spaces.

The RHS garden was designed by children, creating a Neverland especially for children where they can run through the winding paths, splash in the shallow stream and dive into jubilant planting.

Anne-Marie Powell and the Blue Diamond Team’s ‘The Octavia Hill Garden’ has won the first Children’s Choice Award. The garden has been chosen by primary school children for the inaugural award which launched this year. The garden, featuring carved trunk seating and bright tall flowers, is designed as a space for open-air seating rooms.

garden designed by children

Ways to encourage children to garden

  • Encourage wildlife into the garden:
    • add a pond with a grill or a grate over the top if you are worried for safety
    • have a small wildlife pond – either shallow or with a bridge
    • add a container pond
  • Leave an area to grow wild for kids to explore, go bug hunting and learn about plants
  • Get them growing! Dedicate a small area where kids can experiment with growing vegetables or flowers to create bouquets.
  • Build a bug house
  • Play area for a sunken trampoline, fairy garden or den-making space
  • Add a mud kitchen
industrial garden design

Trend 6: Accessible gardens

This year a few gardens also embraced inclusion and creating accessible gardens so everyone can enjoy your outside space.

Penelope Walker’s ‘The Panathlon Joy Garden’ is a colourful and uplifting example of gardens which both enable wheelchair accessibility and normalise difference. The broad and smooth pathway provides accessibility for wheelchair users while the unique curved stem trees represent accepting diversity and encouraging uniqueness.

The Pulp Friction Garden by Will Dutch and Tin-Tin Azure-Marxen, created by the charity’s members, is a clear example of showcasing the skills and determination of those with learning disabilities and autism. The key aim is to provide a safe space for those with learning difficulties, their families and careers, without the need to mask their autistic characteristics in order to fit in with societal norms or expectations, coming together to develop new skills and experiences.

How can I make my garden accessible for all?

  • Have low planters
  • Think about how you travel around the garden – add wider pathways and turning spaces
  • Think about the materials you lay on the ground and the transitions from one space to the other – how easy would it be to manoeuvre through this space? can use colour for the partially blind, do you add texture? Do you keep it smooth?

Trend 7: Combining calming greens with pops of colour

Throughout the gardens, beautiful calming green foliage alongside blue tones and whites were punctuated with bursts of bright purples, oranges, pinks and yellow, adding a fun and joyful element to the existing calming green tones. The contrast in colours created a feast for the eyes, encouraging you to explore further.

  • The Octavia Hill garden features yellow irises, orange geum and yellow Ranunculus lingua ‘Grandiflorus’.
  • The Panathlon Joy Garden included Verbascum ‘Pink Petticoats ’, deep purple Roses ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’, pink Salvia and orange Eremurus.
industrial garden design

How can I add colour to my garden?

A brilliant way to add a bit of colour to your garden is through the introduction of bulb plants for spring. You may have daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops or tulips which allow for the first pop of colour in the spring. Many bulbs will come again year after year.

For colours in the late spring to the early autumn, add hardy perennials which will come back year after year. Add wallflowers, and geums and have a look for your favourite flowers, making sure it is the right plant for the right place, looking at the conditions that are best suited for them.

In the winter, have a look at winter flowering plants such as helleborus which add subtle colours in the colder months. Have a look at evergreen shrubs and bushes that have good structural elements and bark. Perhaps have a look at some colourful Dogwoods for colourful interest.

With so many lovely trends inspiring us at the Chelsea Flower Show, we are ready to create beautiful outdoor spaces for you and your loved ones to enjoy. To find out how we can transform your garden, get in touch with our creative and friendly team.