Chelsea Flower Show 2010

There's a world of inspiration, romance and heroism at this year's Chelsea show
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Romance rules among the 40 gardens at this year's Chelsea Flower show.

Witness the quintessential English summer garden with green oak summerhouse, a trio of pergolas clad with scrambling roses and planting of apricot foxgloves, wild geranium and myrtle that Roger Platts, a consummate plantsman, has dreamed up for M&G Investments, the show's sponsor.

L'Occitane's In Provence garden, with fragrant almond, lavender, juniper and wild thyme, plus the essential olive tree, might well have us converting our plots to emulate the maquis of the warm south.

The Christian Before Dior courtyard, that could drop so deliciously into a London back yard, evokes Dior's famous perfumes and celebrates his love of flowers, via lily of the valley, peonies, honeysuckle and scented roses plus pergola painted, naturally, Dior Grey.

Cloud-pruned box
Grasses with cloud-pruned box
Design supremo Tom Stuart-Smith returns this year, with a modern garden for Laurent-Perrier that promises not to disappoint the many fans of his signature formal framework filled with light-touch planting.

A copper pavilion, overlooking an elongated pool, contrasts with woodland-edge plants; cue lime-green euphorbias, white thalictrum, aquilegia and the ultimate airy flower, cow parsley.

If you fancy a touch of Stuart-Smith magic in your own garden, use the same plant source:, which will have the garden's key plants in a bouquet to buy, the week after Chelsea. Two hedges of cloud-pruned box also feature on the Laurent-Perrier garden, so buy the authentic Japanese scissors on and get clipping.

"When used en masse, cloud pruning can give a slightly surreal and dreamy impression," says Stuart-Smith, in Take Chelsea Home, by Chris Young, the new RHS book which is stuffed with ideas and tips gleaned from show gardens and frequent players. Priced £17.99, buy it for just £13.50 by calling 01903 828503 and quoting code MB280.

Cow parsley
© Gap Photos/Dianna Jazwinski
Cow parsley is Chelsea's hot new plant
Fire pits, pizza ovens and outdoor kitchens in many gardens continue a shift to outdoor entertaining, with Aussie company Fleming's Nurseries - as in previous years - leading the way. This year's Australian offering incorporates a lap pool with wet bar, a spa as well as sunken lounge, kitchen and outdoor roofed living room with bold tropical planting of clivia, canna and strelitzia.

And if you're after lowmaintenance ideas, see Kate Gould's urban plot, A Joy Forever, that includes wicker sofa, bespoke fireplace and minimal-care evergreens, and delight in the green grotto at The Urban Plantaholic's Garden, which is lined with no-maintenance artificial grass.

As always, there will be spectacular sights that can't be copied in the privacy of your own back garden, such as a Chinook helicopter made entirely from carpet bedding in camouflage colours that will hover nearly four metres overhead.

Lavender meringue ice cream
Lavender meringue ice cream from Jekka's Herb Cookbook
However, you can copy the Help for Heroes garden's petunia planting by buying the limited edition petunia mix which will go on sale at B&Q stores from Monday 24 May, along with a sweet pea seed mix; £2 from the £5 petunia pack and 50p from the £1.98 seed mix will go to the Help for Heroes charity.

Hillier Nurseries, aiming for a 65th consecutive Gold medal, is going global, with a series of interlinking gardens inspired by the colours and imagery of a Venetian masked ball, the Jardin Majorelle in Morocco and the flora of the Himalayas.

When you have taken notes retreat to its Secret Garden Diary Room and share your gardening adventures on film; the finest moments will be shown on

Take Chelsea Home ideas
One of the ideas from the new book Take Chelsea Home

Expert advice

Chelsea visitors can also book their slot with a show designer: Thomas Hoblyn and Andy Sturgeon are among 40 designers who will offer free 20-minute consultations throughout each day; book at the Garden Design Clinic on the Society of Garden Designers Stand, number PW26.

Other Chelsea events

However, if you can't get to Chelsea, do the next best thing - hear the designers themselves. On 27 May, at 6.30pm at the Garden Museum, Lambeth, Stuart-Smith and Sturgeon will talk about garden design and Chelsea (book online at, and over at Clifton Nurseries, Mark Gregory will discuss his entry and show how to translate Chelsea into your own space (book at 020 7432 1866).

Keep up to date with the latest gardening news by following Pattie Barron's blog at

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