Gardening Tips > May > Inspired by RHS Chelsea – The secret garden

Inspired by RHS Chelsea – The secret garden

It’s is no surprise that many of this year’s wonderful show gardens at RHS Chelsea have included some form of seating or screened/thinking area with the theme very much being mindfulness and how we can create our garden to become beautiful havens to escape and enjoy!

Sue Biggs CBE, Director General of the RHS says:

“It is fantastic to see the gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show are reminding us all of the power of plants and the huge impact gardening and green spaces can have on so many aspects of our lives.”

At Perrywood, our theme this year is health and happiness and particularly how gardening and the nurturing of plants can benefit our mental and physical health.  A recent survey* conducted in the UK of 1000 adults found they only spent 8% of their week outdoors.  It is important, that we encourage not only adults but the younger generation to spend more time in the garden.  It is therapeutic and the perfect place to unwind and recharge batteries.

We want to share our ideas on how you can create your own thinking space in your garden no matter what size space you have.

Find your perfect spot

When you’re searching for the perfect secret site within your existing set-up, consider your current favourite spot. Perhaps you take a folding chair down to a quiet corner that gets evening sun; maybe you sit and watch the pond or simply slip out to the patio with a glass of wine.

If you haven’t established your favourite place yet, look for a backdrop that is quiet, maybe a wall or fence or side of the house or shed where you can start.  It maybe the canopy of a large tree or a group of shrubs.

Start with structure or screening

Once you have found your spot it is quite easy to convert your favourite feature into a secret place.  The idea is to add screening or a structure – you could top the patio with a pergola pole and plant a grapevine for shade and seclusion, or position a rustic bench overlooking the pond and plant a brake of bamboos to screen it from the rest of the garden.  Both very simple and effective.

We love the idea of screening with willow or adding unusual ferns.


.Choose a path

The pathway can be formal in paving or shingle but it doesn’t have to be.  The idea is that the location is a secret garden so it could be grass edged with borders or even stepping stones within the grass.

Start planting

It is important to know how you want to use your secret garden.  If you are going to spend your time there for meditation and clarity of thoughts then choose plants that are softly scented like Lavender or a climbing plant like a Clematis or Rose and choose soft whites and soft blues known to calm the mind and aid concentration.

By adding trees like Acer you get the screened height but won’t completely block the view so they create a sense of security without feeling trapped which is especially important for those suffering from anxiety or stress.

If colour makes you happy and gives you an energy boost then opt for brighter pinks and purples or vivid oranges and reds.  If your space is small then use containers to bring colour to your little secret haven!

Create your framework using shrubs, evergreens, ferns or small trees to provide that needed canopy and seclusion. Use Aucuba, Choisya, Euonymus, Acer, Box or Holly offering interest and rich colour all year round.

Wall planting of Taxus baccata dome, Buxus sempervirens and variety of ferns. Gap Photos 2018.

Then fill gaps with easy to care for perennials like Aquilegia, Salvia, Geum, Geranium or Verbena and add movement with grasses such as a Stipa, Carex or Festuca.

Top Tip: Remember to plant in 3’s or 5’s and position your plants in triangles.

Secret Garden using grasses and container with Nepeta Gap Photos 2018


You have the calming background of the breeze rustling the ornamental grass and the scents from your chosen plants the final element for perfect meditation comes from sound.

Maybe adding a water feature or some wind chimes will help you focus and add clarity to your thoughts allowing you to de-stress from your busy day.

This is the final piece from our 5 days of #RHSChelsea.  If you would like any help in planning what plants will work well in your #secretgarden then pop in and talk to our plant experts.

*Ribbles Cycles Survey

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