The weather is going to be the telling factor in garden design trends this year, thanks to several years of excessively wet weather and flooding.
So says award-winning garden designer Chris Beardshaw, co-presenter of BBC2’s Great Garden Revival, who is currently planning his forthcoming ‘Healthy Cities’ show garden with first-time RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsor Morgan Stanley.
“There’s a real awareness of the challenges of the weather,” he says. “We’ve gone through that period where we thought it was going to get hotter and buying phormiums and cordylines and then finding that the winter killed them.
“People are going back to much more resilient planting types.
“We often put shrub roses with clematis and an underscore of bulbs to give the three hits of interest. People are becoming aware that one plant doesn’t necessarily cover all bases and are adopting a more refined approach to planting.”
Plants such as phillyrea and deciduous rhododendrons, which provide masses of interest through a long season and little maintenance, may become more popular, he predicts, while we are moving away from ‘static gardens’, low-maintenance, minimalist plots which don’t change through the season and are lacking in personality.
“People want the garden to respond to the seasons - and the plants have to respond to that.”
“The bubble of ‘grow your own’ has burst,” he continues. “After a couple of dodgy weather seasons, most people are now realising that growing fruit and veg is not as easy as it might seem and, as a consequence, are becoming more selective of what they grow.
“Rhubarb is fantastically popular because it is so easy to grow, along with fruit like damsons and gages which can be planted as hedging or put in a wild area of the garden and will largely look after themselves.’’