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Get that Back to Nature look – whatever your garden space

By Features Reporter

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The RHS Back to Nature garden, designed by the Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White. Picture: RHS / Neil Hepworth
The RHS Back to Nature garden, designed by the Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White. Picture: RHS / Neil Hepworth

Since the last Simpsons Garden Centre column the Chelsea Flower Show has been and gone but there were some great highlights and inspiration to incorporate into your garden from this year's participants and exhibitors.

Many of this year's show gardens were influenced by nature and wildlife, from an abundance of trees and wildflowers to up-cycling and water features – all very easy to incorporate into a garden – such as the RHS Back to Nature garden, which was full of interest.

How to achieve the look

Stunning cottage and woodland garden flowers and plants featured again this year from beautiful lupins and salvia to herbs and grasses. These can be incorporated into borders or containers in smaller gardens and add instant colour, height and interest.

Get back to nature: adding a pond is one of the best things you can do for wildlife in the garden, creating a network of habitats for freshwater species, insects, birds and mammals that depend on them.

Monkey puzzle tree: this year's Trailfinders Undiscovered Latin America garden at Chelsea featured a statement monkey puzzle tree, but even a small garden can start with a much smaller version of this tree, which matures over many years and looks amazing!

Create a wigwam: use natural products such as cane, wicker and bamboo to create supports for plants and veg or even a wigwam for children to grow plants round, as well as creating a den! Short on space? Go smaller with a wicker pre-planted container.

Up-cycling: the great thing about up-cycling in your garden is that anything goes. Plant up an old container with interesting plants and shrubs and create an instant feature in your garden. Old sinks, baths or even an old tea pot lend well to herb gardens and look fantastic.

A touch of copper: many of this year's Chelsea gardens featured copper in their design. Even just a small addition to your garden can achieve this trend from copper containers (also great for up-cycling) and solar lights can feature without being overbearing.

Children’s gardening week

At the start of June we celebrated National Children’s Gardening Week, encouraging children to enjoy getting outside to try planting and growing. One of the easiest things to get children growing is herbs and salad. Not only can they see results from their efforts taking shape pretty quickly, they can then enjoy eating their efforts after only a few weeks! Encourage children to get growing this summer with pots and containers in the garden. Not a lot of garden space? Kids can grow their herbs and salads on a windowsill with great results.

Top tips for June

  • It's not too late to direct sow late-flowering hardy annuals such as calendula, godetia and clarkia in your garden. Cannas and dahlias can also be planted once you are certain the frost has passed.
  • Keep your garden tidy with regular mowing – once a week is ideal. Add a high nitrogen summer lawn fertiliser for healthy looking grass. In prolonged dry periods, keep your grass a little longer to help keep it green.
  • Make sure the vents and doors are open in your greenhouse on warmer days.
  • Collect rainwater and re-use it by watering hanging baskets, for example.
  • Plant your summer bedding plants and keep them well watered, especially on warmer days. Make sure to feed container plants every two to four weeks with liquid food.
  • Ensure no birds are nesting in your hedges before clipping them.
  • Keep an eye out for weeds and regularly hoe them off to prevent spreading.
  • Remove dirt and algae from walls and patios using a stiff-bristled brush or pressure washer.
  • Cut back dead bulb foliage if you haven't already done so. Ensure this is not done too early but rather when the foliage dies down naturally.
  • Be on the lookout for viburnum beetles and lily beetle grubs which love to eat your foliage! Vine weevil larvae can be a real pest for your container plants at this time of year. Ladybirds are a great way to keep them under control.

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