10 garden plants to get the Wild Chelsea Flower Show look at home

Camille Phelps

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is back in its traditional May timeslot for the first time in three years and this time around things are a little crazy in SW3.

As you walk through the floral arch in the main door, you can’t help but notice that the display is simply buzzing with bees. It’s a mix of native plants, species and cultivated flowers that attract pollinators – elegantly unruly, but very, very beautiful, and that sets the scene for the show.

Forget boxwood balls and trimmed yews, freshly mown lawns and exotic architectural plantings. The inspiration for Chelsea 2022 is the British countryside and, whether it’s wild food plants in the Alder Hey Urban Foraging Stationor the peaceful flower meadows of Andy Sturgeon’s spirit garden, the show is full of flowers and tall grass that will make you feel like you have just stepped into a meadow. The look is all about cultivating natural, native, wildlife-friendly gardens. But is it easy to get the wild look at home?

Designer Juliet Sargeant, who created the New Peter Blue Garden, advises: “Wild gardening is all about choice. In a small space, it’s hard to get year-round interest with the wild look because there’s a time when it just doesn’t work – but it does work in containers, and that’s pretty little. maintenance, because you can reduce it each year and the plants will come back. Consider using native plants and smaller flowers that will intertwine – things with a long stem that pierce through other things, like geums.

Here are 10 planting ideas to inspire that natural feeling in your own green space. Combine three or more of these plants in one container for a loose, flowing look that will give you blooms all summer long, or add them to a more formal mix to introduce a wild element and attract those all-important pollinators. Or, if you’re looking for a no-mow meadow, start with Lindum Turf wildflower turf, which features a mix of wild campion, ragged robin, yarrow, daisies and already-seeded plantain in the rug.

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We’re not talking about the exotic tropical types, but the very British, native, southern swamp, Dactylorhiza praetermissa and spotted orchids Dactylorhiza fuchsii. These beautiful, tiny purple arrowheads grow on roadsides and meadows and you can buy them from specialty vendors. Grow among grasses, but they also work in containers and will give your wild planting a truly authentic look.


Campionary, Silene latifolia

White Campion flowers were everywhere at Chelsea 2022. It’s a great species to add to a mix with grasses, where the flowers will tower above low-growing plantings to attract butterflies and other pollinating insects. . It flowers all summer and although it is a short-lived perennial, it will self-seed.


Ragged Robin, Silene flos-cuculi

Available in pink and white, these are must-have plants for wet meadows and riversides. The delicate native flowers may seem a little “weedy” to some, but mix them with their common bedfellows like campion, plantain and buttercup, and they’ll be right at home and attract bees and butterflies. If they are happy in Chelsea, why not add them to your garden?

With its typical cones of white and pink flowers, it’s a must-have to achieve the wild Chelsea look. It will grow almost anywhere, off walls and cobblestones, so it’s perfect for borders and sunny containers. Flower moss will continue from spring through fall, so these are truly hardworking, wild-looking plants.

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What could be simpler ? You can leave them in your lawn, but if you’re looking for a suitable daisy for your borders and pots, the frothy mass of Erigeron karvinskianus, also known as Mexican fleabane, is a favorite choice of Chelsea designers. It is much smaller than the white daisy, Leucantheumum vulgarewhich is a hallmark of prairie planting and is ideal for dry planting and tumbling over the edges of containers and planters for a naturally relaxed look that lasts most of the year.

With tiny flowers appearing in flat clusters atop tall stems, plants like Cow Parsley provide the perfect landing platform for pollinators. In terms of looks, it’s hard to beat this waist-high mousse of dreamy floral delight. But although they are more difficult to grow successfully in gardens, there are plenty of alternatives you can use to the same effect. Creators love it Orlaya grandiflora – this white lace will bloom repeatedly throughout the summer.


California poppy, Escholzia Californica

Perfect for adding intense color to your prairie look, these poppies come in brilliant yellows and oranges to the hottest reds. The gray-green feathery foliage is elegant and the blooms continue throughout the summer. Let them self-seed and you’ll be rewarded with those brilliant poppies for years to come. Good for drought tolerant projects and gravel gardens.

These wonderful flowers bring an orange and yellow accent to the garden all summer long, and their foliage doesn’t die back over winter, so there’s a bonus too. There are many cultivated varieties to choose from, but one of Chelsea’s favorites is ‘Totally Tangerine’. They are great for combining with wild natives or contrasting with herbs like nepeta and lavender.


Borage, Borago officinalis

A favorite for bees, it’s fantastic for any garden and useful too. Easy to grow from seed, you can make compost tea with the leaves to feed your plants with nutritious homemade plant food, and use the pretty flowers to decorate salads and summer cocktails, and simply enjoy the stems nodding and textured foliage.

Guaranteed to add sweet contrast to planting patterns and real sultry dimension with their unique swishy motion. Stipa tenuissima is a favorite for small spaces and containers, but one of the most popular grasses in Chelsea gardens was Briza media (pictured), also known as shaking grass. It’s a designer favorite, with soft foliage and tiny, round seed heads that add texture and sound.

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