Top gardening tips from the experts

A garden design from RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 takes place from May 21-25, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. For more information, visit www.rhs.org.uk. Picture: PA Photo/Handout.
A garden design from RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 takes place from May 21-25, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. For more information, visit www.rhs.org.uk. Picture: PA Photo/Handout.

While sustainability may be the watchword of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with emphasis on biodiversity, wild planting areas and inviting eco-systems, so many of the designs simply wouldn’t be feasible in our own gardens, writes Hannah Stephenson.

So, eminent designers ranging from Tom Stuart-Smith to Jekka McVicar are offering advice to gardeners based on their own experiences in a new centenary edition of Take Chelsea Home by Chris Young, which looks at how gardeners can adopt similar techniques to create beautiful spaces in their own residential plots.

Here’s a few tips from the award-winners:

Organic herb grower Jekka McVicar, who has won 14 gold medals at Chelsea, on planting a summer salad crop container: “The trick is to choose a planter large enough to grow a crop for cutting; an ideal size is 23cm (9in) wide by 18cm (7in) high, or 5 litres/1 gallon, or larger. Fill with compost and water well, then sow the seeds and cover lightly with more compost.

“Set the container in a sheltered warm spot that is shaded from the midday sun.”

Landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, who has eight Chelsea golds under his belt, on layered planting: “The idea behind layered planting in the garden is to repeat the ecological patterns inherent in complex plant communities.

“In an oak woodland, for example, there are various different levels: an upper canopy, often a middle canopy of medium-sized trees and saplings; a shrub layer, a herb layer, and then bulbs and corms at the bottom.

“By adapting this natural pattern to a garden, it is possible to have different layers flowering at different times, usually with the lower layers flowering first.”

Professor Nigel Dunnett, three-time Silver-Gilt winner and one of the principal planting consultants for the London Olympic Park, on green roofs: “The most important consideration for such a roof is how much weight the chosen building will support. It must comfortably take the weight of a person if it is to be strong enough to have a green roof planted on it.

“You can create a simple green roof by securing a pre-grown mat of sedums over a pond liner on the roof surface.”

Take Chelsea Home by Chris Young is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £20.