GARDEN IDEAS from the Ascot Spring Garden Show

I’m here at Royal Ascot racecourse for the
first day of England’s new garden show. It’s Alexandra from the Middlesized Garden YouTube
channel, and I’m interested to see what sort of new ideas, new gardening tips, new products
and things are out there for us, for our gardens. I started with the show gardens, and met Catherine
MacDonald whose garden for Landform Consultants combines strong architectural features and
naturalistic planting with lots of really useful all year round evergreens. ‘The theme
for the gardens was Town and Country’ and I decided to do a garden that could potentially
fit in both and I had a design I’d done for a town house garden in Wimbledon, and I took
the same space and redesigned it at an angle to the house.
Next I talked to Joe Perkins of the Outdoor Room and his courtyard garden is designed
as an outdoor dining room, and that would also fit either as the whole of a small town
garden or be an element in a larger country garden. ‘I’m Joe Perkins and I’m a designer
at The Outdoor Room, and I’m also a landscape architect. I wanted to design a space that
people could look at and actually have, no matter what size of garden they’ve got, so
really something that’s accessible to everybody. In terms of the planting it was key for me
to try and encapsulate the joy of spring, and the fresh greens and everything I love
about spring.’ One really strong direction I noted is that many gardens included one
or two spiky or sculptural plants amid the softer planting, so I went to Architectural
Plants’ stall. Guy Watts, the managing director, told me that people are also very interested
at the moment in softer and quite structural pruning, it’s called Niwaki pruning and it’s
a kind of cloud pruning that creates strong shapes but it’s also quite natural and follows
the line of the tree or shrub. I saw more colour. Reds and blues are back in the garden
as accents and highlights. In the student gardens there were flashes of blue and red
lights, and on Five Two Garden Sculpture, there are red and blue garden sculptures.
Fences, trellises and screens are definitely getting more interesting. I saw coloured fences,
laser-cut screens and trellis which divided up the space in the garden and gave some sense
of privacy while still allowing the eye to partially see through. There’s more detail
about all these gardens in the description below, and the companies I’ve mentioned in
the links below. The first Ascot Spring Garden Show is really lovely. It’s not huge – it’s
big enough to be worth a day trip but it’s not absolutely enormous, so you can really
see everything. I particularly liked the show gardens. I thought they were very pretty,
with quite strong architectural lines in terms of the design, so quite contemporary, too.
There were lots of multi-stemmed trees, lots of nurseries with rare or unusual plants.
I really think plant buying is a good reason to go to a garden fair. there were also six
young gardener of the year show garden entries. They were lovely. There was one using recycled
materials – they were all really worth a look. With just six show gardens and six student
gardens, you could really see them all. Overall – it’s a cold and misty day, not what you
think of as garden show weather, there are loads of places to eat and drink – garden
shows often don’t have enough places to rest, and Ascot hasn’t made that mistake at all.
And of course the racecourse is a fantastic location, so all in all I think this has great
potential as one of Britain’s garden shows. Hope to see you again – do subscribe to the
Middlesized Garden.

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