The M&G Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is always a grand affair that heads up the line of impressive Main Avenue show gardens. This year is no exception as renowned garden designer Andy Sturgeon has created a showstopping woodland landscape, which celebrates the beauty of nature’s power to regenerate and colonise with new growth.
The garden is dominated by trees and ferns, creating a vibrantly green and lush environment, and includes a number of interesting and pioneering plant species from around the world, all of which are able to grow and thrive in our British climate.
A woodland garden can evoke strong emotions, as trees have the ability to lift our spirits and create a feeling of calm and relaxation. Even in a small space it is possible to create that relaxed, naturalistic feel just by introducing a single native tree.
Choose a tree for year- round interest. Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Birch) will provide you with a striking luminous white bark which glows in the winter, and glossy green leaves that gently move in the spring/summer breeze and turn a lovely yellow in autumn. Birch look wonderful under-planted with wildflowers such as Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove), which is also a haven for pollinators and terrific self-seeders.
Alternatively, the native Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan or Mountain Ash) with its clusters of white late-spring flowers followed by orange-red berries in summer and vivid autumn leaves are perfect in a small garden due to its slow growth rate and tidy columnar habit.
Other valuable additions for a woodland effect, include a few key ground-cover plants, which have the added bonus of being low maintenance.
Ferns will thrive in lower light levels, Polystichum setiferum ‘Herrenhausen’ is a hardy variety of our native evergreen fern. The new foliage uncurls in spring to show long, intricately-divided fronds.
Brunnera has large, heart-shaped leaves and sprays of small bright blue flowers in April/May time, it is also great in a partial or full-shade position.
Anemone ‘Wild Swan’, will give you a long intermittent flowering season from May until the November frosts. It was named as winner of the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year Award in 2011.