I know we say this every year – gardens are changing worldwide and the recent crop shown at Hampton Court this year really give an overview of the trends.
Gardens have lost the formality of bygone eras and are embracing a more relaxed feel which also takes into consideration the needs of local wildlife and climate change. Here are a couple which show these trends.
Photographs in this article are by David Baldock unless cited otherwise.
Working Wetlands Garden
Photographs courtesy of the Royal Horticultural Society
I think it is probably no accident that the Working Wetlands Garden designed by Jeni Cairns won Gold and Best Show Garden. This garden follows the sustainability trends to a T. It provides a haven for wildlife and people and at the same time demonstrates a working solution to the problem of flash flooding caused by urban run-off. Swales with tough vegetation slow the movement of water off a property and save water for use by plants in drier times. The planting used is also attractive to insects (and probably snakes).
There is no doubt that this look is wild and woolly, not a hedge or lawn or rose bush in sight.
The other great thing though, is that many of these gardens also offer space for people and garden living. Something many show gardens, focused on getting a particular message across, often do not accommodate.
The Austin Garden
I am impressed by the series of Great Gardens of the USA and in particular, The Austin Garden, designed by Sadie May Stowell, which shows exactly the same trends happening in a very different way.
Not so wild and woolly, but in the context of Texas, this garden claims to be water wise and wildlife friendly. It is very friendly for people too and much of the structural base is recycled only adding to the move towards relaxed living in sustainable conditions.
Natural stone, charred timber, gravel, and planting which is mostly native to North America all feature.
Yarrow with the grassy under planting is native to North America and this combination is fabulous. Note those hot colours which featured at all the shows this year.
Journey Latin America’s Inca Garden
Designed by Jennifer Jones, this garden is inspired by the Inca civilisation of Peru. The Incas were pioneers in botany and horticulture.
Dense native tropical foliage surrounds the garden’s entrance.
Stone terraces hold gardens of corn above a bubbling water cascade. The sound of falling water creates a peaceful, harmonious atmosphere and completes the four cosmological principles which the Incas believed originated from their goddess Pachamama (Mother Earth):
There is room for people here too. The informal seating around the fire pit fits with the relaxed lifestyle people are looking for today.