Why your garden (indoors or outside) is never going to look like the Chelsea flower show (and that’s ok!) — Jane Perrone



4. It’s sexy, but is it sensible?

When it comes to displays of indoor plants, such as the Houseplant Studios, most of the same issues that apply to the outdoor gardens are the same – budgets will be huge, plants brought in just for the occasion, and often all elements of practicality shoved out the window.

Plants may be tightly packed together, or covering every conceivable surface, like the 2021 Conservatory Archives Houseplant Studio (pictured above) – you definitely couldn’t make it to the loo or the bath without a serious struggle, even if they were plumbed in!

Light levels don’t have to be a concern, because in a few days the whole thing will be torn down and the plants rehomed. So succulents can go in the dark corner where they look cool, but would soon fizzle out in the real world.

The Houseplant Studios are fantastic for inspiring us to bring more plants into our homes, and showing off certain species at their best, but don’t take them as blueprints for how to display your collection at home.

5. Take a side

The standard features of the Chelsea garden – from the ‘shack at the back’ structure to the obligatory lump of sculpture or water feature – are designed with completely different set of eyelines to a regular garden. That’s because unlike a normal garden, which may have any combination of fences, walls, a house, or a garage on each side, most Chelsea gardens have at least two sides where the public can stand and peer in, so planting can be appreciated from a standing position. If you’ve ever been to Chelsea, you’ll know that the Main Avenue show gardens are not accessible to the public, one can only sharpen elbows and get to the front of the scrum to view them from the front or the side*. (The exception being the garden/s on the triangle which is visible on all sides).  

*One of the amazing perks of my job is being occasionally granted permission to go inside Chelsea gardens. It does give you a totally different perspective.

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