Life

Gardening: Seven ways to achieve a show garden look at home

Missing your garden shows? Acclaimed stylist Selina Lake shares her expert tips on bringing show garden style into your own garden

Forage for a few wildflowers and foliage to add colour to your al fresco table

LIKE many garden experts, homes and gardens stylist Selina Lake (selinalake.co.uk), who had been due to help style a show garden for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, has turned her attention to stay-at-home projects.

Ramping up floral themes to display seasonal flowers, perking up alfresco dining and complementing wild flower gardens with matching accessories is a good way to get the show garden look, she says.

"For me, making a garden beautiful and flower show ready is not only about the plants, hard landscaping and great design layouts. It's the styling details that add the final touch of magic. In fact, even the dullest of gardens can be jazzed up super quickly with some easy styling ideas."

Here, she offers seven suggestions on how to make your outside space a show garden showstopper...

1. Choose a style theme: "Botanicals play a big role in my work, and my personal style at home and in the garden. Most spaces benefit from a soft, natural, colourful touch, which fresh cut flowers, lush house plants, or even a simple branch in a vase, can achieve effortlessly.

"The fun thing about a small space is it can be easily changed – great news if you're like me and can't fix on one look. Some of the key, classic trends and style themes that are good bases are: vintage, rustic, industrial, bohemian and recycled, as these styles can be intermixed and all work nicely with botanicals.

"If you fancy a botanical cocktail in summer, create a botanical bar on a flat surface such as a tabletop, bench or shelf and gather some fragrant herbs such as rosemary, lemon balm, mint and thyme, or whatever you grow, along with your favourite tipple - and it can look stylish."

2. Source props: "When it comes to sourcing decorative pieces, work with what you already have. Repurpose bed sheets as tablecloths, old jugs as vases, or recycle glass bottles to use as bud vases.

"Borrow cushions and throws from your sofa to comfy up and add style to garden furniture, and dig out bunting normally reserved for parties to add a scene of occasion to your alfresco dining space."

3. Colour up with flowers: "Anything botanical is my go-to styling prop. Pick flowers growing aplenty in your garden, forage for a few wildflowers and foliage to add in. Cow parsley is abundant in hedgerows at the moment.

"If you don't have enough flowers, there are lots of florists still trading online with no contact deliveries, so research your local area for fresh flower sources.

"Display them in glass or ceramic vases and use them to add colour and scent to the interior of your garden buildings and tabletops. For a full-on floral fix, fill a galvanised bucket with your blooms and place it on a garden chair to create a flowery focal point."

4. Style your display: "Outside I utilise decorative planters, jars, galvanised buckets and vintage wooden boxes. In the same way you decorate and style your home with homeware accessories, your garden will benefit from thoughtfully chosen accessories.

"Think about the little details that will add to the overall appeal. I'm talking about small vignettes such as hanging lanterns from tree branches, grouping small plant pots together, and tidying away anything out of place.

"You could utilise shelving or any flat surface to make a garden display. Gather items such as plants in terracotta pots, balls of string, plant labels and vases of freshly cut flowers, and arrange them until you are happy with the overall look."

5. Pimp your shed: "I always have some sort of botanical theme in my shed, but recently I have added a few extra touches such as a botanical wall chart poster, vintage Chinese paper lanterns - which I bought from a vintage fair about 10 years ago – and glass bud vases filled with flowers picked from my garden.

"Revamp your shed firstly by giving it a sort-out to free up some space. Utilise shelving or a potting bench to arrange plant pots, stacks of flower books and wooden boxes filled with seed packets to get the look."

6. Make your outdoor dining area sizzle: "Make [your dining area] a floral zone, position it somewhere in the garden where you will have a backdrop of flowers, next to a blooming border, flowering shrub or a mini meadow patch.

"A simple white tablecloth will be a good base for a floral theme. Mine was super quick to make, cutting a piece of bleached muslin fabric to size – and I didn't even hem it. Add a runner to zone the centre of the table. I used my nude coloured sarong, but you can utilise a scarf or a fabric offcut if you don't have a runner.

"Then place a large arrangement of flowers at the centre of the table, with small posies or single stems in bottles or bud vases. Add an extra floral touch with some flower printed fabric napkins."

7. Find space to relax: "Finally, make a spot to take a moment to pause. If you make a designated spot to sit down, it may encourage you to a stop, for a while at least.

"Position your comfiest garden chair, bench or outside sofa, somewhere you can easily take in the garden views, add a collection of cushions to create a scene of style, and surround the seating with a mass of plants or flowers. This will become a sweet spot to pause, read and take a breath before the next task."

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