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Home & Garden 5 design tips to help you recreate the magic of Chelsea in your own garden

14:11  06 june  2020
14:11  06 june  2020 Source:   housebeautiful.co.uk

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a close up of a flower garden: Multi award-winning landscape designer, Joe Perkins, shares tips on redesigning your garden and how to get that added Chelsea-level detail into your space. © RHS/Sarah Cuttle Multi award-winning landscape designer, Joe Perkins, shares tips on redesigning your garden and how to get that added Chelsea-level detail into your space.

The Virtual Chelsea Flower Show has passed and it's left us all with new inspiration to transform our outdoor spaces. Multi award-winning landscape designer, Joe Perkins, has offered some insight into where to start with redesigning your garden – and, more importantly, how to get that added Chelsea-level detail into your space.

Joe won a Gold Medal, Best in Category and Best Construction at RHS Chelsea 2019 for his garden Beyond the Screen, sponsored by Facebook. He was due to create The Facebook Garden: Growing the Future at this year's RHS Chelsea before it was cancelled – he will now be displaying his garden at RHS Chelsea 2021 instead.

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Take note of Joe's garden design tips below to help you recreate the magic of Chelsea in your own garden.

1. Keep things simple

To create a more powerful look, restrict the number of materials you use and focus on one main material, deployed creatively, which will tie your design together. For instance, you could think about using only one type of stone but bring the material to life in different ways. Mix up your placement of large paving slabs and smaller cobbles, consider using gravel, or explore building a feature wall.

This type of variation is exactly what we did at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show, using large pieces of Caithness stone for the pathways and varying the textures to create contrast elsewhere in the garden. These little details are the kind of thing that makes a difference at Chelsea.

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a close up of a cement bench: Joe perkins, garden design © Natalia Odescalchi Joe perkins, garden design

Once this is in place, you can then think about pairing this with one or two other materials, but I would suggest no more than three. To finish off the look in this town garden, I used brick to match the exterior of the house, complemented by Purbeck limestone for all the surfaces and western red cedar for the other structures.

a bench in a garden: Joe perkins, garden design © Natalia Odescalchi Joe perkins, garden design

2. Repetition

In addition to keeping the choice of materials coherent, using repetition in your planting design will help make the space feel balanced. We tend to recognise similarity, and so seeing the same plant or colours popping up throughout the space will feel comfortable and purposeful. Using this trick will also help to draw your eye through the garden.

In natural plant communities, the same plants spread themselves around, so mimicking this will make your borders work better together.

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3. Levels

Using the different levels in your garden not only adds an extra dimension but helps to make a space feel bigger. For example, in this town garden I used the position of the existing swimming pool to form the basis of a new sunken-covered area for a hot tub. It makes the space feel private and cosy. Additionally, it meant that the hot tub itself is now less visible from the house – they're not necessarily the most attractive garden accessory! Note the same materials are used throughout, linking the different areas of the garden together, creating a flow.

a large white building: Joe perkins, garden design © Natalia Odescalchi Joe perkins, garden design

If you have a natural change in level such as a slope or bank, then it makes sense to use it to your own advantage. There are a number of ways to deal with varying levels, one of which is to use them as an opportunity for planting. Slopes are a chance to not only grow a specialised range of plants but show them off in the process, particularly as they’re more visible with the ground rising away from the viewer.

4. Water

Using water successfully in the garden can be tricky to get right, but a water feature brings so much joy to a garden, benefiting our own wellbeing as well as our wildlife. It can be hard to integrate a 'natural' water feature into a garden setting without it looking too contrived, but there are ways to achieve it.

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The key is the water feature's relationship to other elements in the garden, ensuring that any edging details blend harmoniously, whether that’s through the skilful use of rocks or planting. A great example of this is the water wall by David Harber. I positioned it to sit between some elegant timber screens and a green 'wall' made of evergreen star jasmine.

a sign on the side of a fence: Joe perkins, garden design © Natalia Odescalchi Joe perkins, garden design

5. Boundaries

My design tip for those all-important, dominating features that are your boundaries, is to maximise their potential. What does that mean? It means make the most of them; vertical surfaces represent opportunities to grow a great range of climbers, wall shrubs, fruit and many other types of plant depending on what you like.

Evergreen scented climbers such as the star jasmine can, if trained correctly and placed in a sunny spot, turn your fence into a year-round green backdrop, with the added benefit of sweet-smelling flowers.

Turning your boundaries into green walls will literally make them recede, deceiving the eye and adding a sense of depth, and so your space, whilst still enclosed, will feel bigger. This was what we did with the 2019 Chelsea garden, where the boundary hedging was an informal mix of coastal shrubs – it muddled the visual limits of the space and made the 10x10m plot feel much bigger than it really was.

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an umbrella sitting on top of a building: Joe perkins, garden design © Natalia Odescalchi Joe perkins, garden design

You can add architectural interest by incorporating structural elements at intervals, be it contemporary timber panels, water wall features, or simply a bench with a simple rose-covered arbour overhead. By doing this you can emphasise the 'courtyard feel' which for me is a huge attraction to a small space.

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