Don’t let the unpredictable summer weather stop you from enjoying the garden when you get a chance – here are four trends to inspire you
Easy living outdoors
We’re used to talking about bringing the outdoors in, but now that’s switched around and it’s all about creating an area in your garden that’s as comfortable as your living room. Maybe it’s down to the increasing popularity of large bifold doors, often leading directly from an open plan space straight into the garden, and the urge to extend that feeling of flow outdoors. This explains the popularity of large, stylish sofas and roomy seats, placed around a low table to resemble a three-piece suite – but weatherproof, of course.
Inviting and luxurious, this type of furniture also works with the all-encompassing hygge trend – just add plump cushions, a couple of cosy throws, flowers and candles, and you’ve got a recipe for comfort, cosiness and happiness – which is the very definition of this popular Scandinavian trend. Add a fire pit for evening warmth, plus a shade sail or canopy for shelter and you’ve created a garden stylist’s dream.
Make an impact with colour blocking
You may have come across this in fashion, and now this trend is making its way into our gardens. In a nutshell, it means using a bold, saturated colour on a wall or fence outside and is a very effective way to frame or highlight a feature and divide your garden into different zones. Use a vivid hue on a wall to frame a stunning statement plant such as an olive tree, or a row of planters – subtle, worn-in terracotta or in a contrasting hit of colour, the choice is yours. Try adding a bold splash of colour behind an outdoor sofa or bistro set, and you’ll instantly define your seating area. The combinations are endless and it’s a quick way to transform your garden.
The same effect can be achieved by planting large drifts of plants in blocks of colour, and as luck would have it, there are plenty of bright blooms on offer – there was an abundance of colour at this year’s Chelsea Garden Show and Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry, has named the vibrant Zinnia as its plant of the year.
Let’s go native (or at least natural)
Whether it’s down to the trend for ‘hyperlocalism’ or the Brexit effect, there’s a resurgence in native planting this year. We’re more aware of buying locally and that increasingly applies to plants, too. Foxgloves, dog roses, cornflowers, scabious and poppies also fit well with a move towards more relaxed planting, which is perhaps a reaction to the minimalist, geometric planting that has been popular for a while now.
This effect was beautifully executed in several show gardens at Chelsea, notably the Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden by Sarah Raven, with its use of poppies, lupins, cosmos and sweet peas – and while they’re not all native, these are plants that create the classic, natural country garden look.
Light it up
Garden lighting has been a ‘thing’ for a while now, but the current trend is for planned, permanent lighting in addition to incidental lanterns you may feature in your outdoor room (pictured). Use uplighters to accentuate statement plants, curtain lighting on a wall, strings of lights draped from tree branches – as long as they’re planned effectively and in moderation, these can subtly add an extra dimension to your garden. Battery-operated LED lights and increasingly efficient solar lighting mean that you can easily add lighting retrospectively if it’s too late to build in cables and lighting to your garden. The key is to avoid making your garden too bright – keep it soft and subtle.
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