Articles, Blog

Ideas for your garden from BBC Gardeners World Live 2019

November 17, 2019

Hi there it’s Alexandra from the
Middle-sized Garden blog and YouTube channel and I’m here at BBC Gardeners
World live in Birmingham to find some tips for our own gardens. There are a
number of really beautiful ideas for your garden at this year’s BBC Gardeners
World Live and I’ll start with green planting based on leaf contrast. Now
mainly green colour planting schemes could sound boring, but many of the show
gardens here at BBC Gardeners World live 20 19 had almost all green borders with
perhaps just one or two standout colors and of course this is a look that really
works all year round – if you want something to look at all year round
think about foliage in your gardens instead of mixed borders of flowers, and
the interest comes from the different shades and shapes of the green leaves.
For example here in the Argent front garden designed by Professor David
Stevens much of the front garden interest comes from differences in leaf
shape and color and he says that this is because you actually see a front garden
more than you see the back garden so it does need year-round interest, although
of course not all leaves will will be there all year round, but it just gives
you a structure that is very attractive. Now part of making this work is
variegated leaves and I saw quite a lot of variegated leaves at BBC Gardeners
World live. Around 20 years ago here in the UK there was a migraine inducing
amount of leaf variegation in gardens – it just seemed that every single leaf was
striped or spotted and suddenly variegated plants became really
unfashionable but actually if you have one or two variegated leaves in your
garden it really is fantastic and of course it lights up a dark corner like
nothing else. There’s a lot of naturalistic planting around and I think
this is one of the trends I thought I might bring into my garden although I think I
might have to persuade my other half that it’s a good idea is not to strim
the edges of your lawn. That’s the message that the designer of the
canals and River trust Chris Myers thought that people could take away from
the Canals and River Trust garden. Cottage garden planting is something
that’s really coming up in gardens here in the UK and it’s a very easy way of
having lots of color and interest in a garden and of course it’s really good
for wildlife and for pollinating insects, so where the show gardens at BBC
gardeners world live were not all green they had a really cottage garden feel
and that’s a lively mix of plants and flowers. Don’t worry too much about
what the heights are, don’t really worry about the colours, just get different
shapes and colors of flowers to attract pollinators and cottage garden planting
also means that you can mix vegetables and flowers in the same bed – and the
Dahlia garden designed by John Wheatley mixes dahlias with vegetables really in a
very attractive way. Another look that is really beautiful in gardens at the
moment is the idea of combining a garden with a certain amount of industrial or
urban reclamation – it’s as if nature is just reclaiming its own landscape and
it’s quite a romantic look. Think about having grasses that grow to quite
a height and self seeded plants in crevices and garden furniture made of
reclaimed bits and pieces. The High Line garden based on New York’s High Line
public garden and designed by Lucy Bravington and constructed by Dan Ryan, was a very good example of this. It was
one of those very green planting gardens with very naturalistic planting and
grasses that were growing up high and it used Corten steel for a fire pit and
other reclaimed materials to make a bench, and you just had the feeling that
this was a garden that had been carved out of some little bit of either
industrial or urban landscape. I also loved the Revelation garden which was
designed by Mike Baldwin and it was designed as a number of gardens and you
walk from one to the other. It had lots of ideas of in it but particularly I
enjoyed this huge pair of gates with wilderness planting behind them. It’s as
if there had been a great house there which has vanished, leaving only
its walls and gates behind- a very secret garden feel- and this distressed shed in
the Canals and Rivers Trust garden also fitted into this theme. You could
possibly distress your shed or you could just wait for it to look crumbling. One
really beautiful trend at the moment is being able to add quite a strong color
by using pots or furniture or cushions. If you have got a largely green garden
you can add real pops of brilliant color with cushions or the pots or maybe just
one or two flowers so I think that’s a really easy way of getting vibrant color
into your garden. Another really great idea is having raised beds in front
gardens. Professor David Stevens designed the two front gardens for the Young
Landscapers Award competition at BBC Gardeners World Live. Two young landscaping teams then
executed his briefs. Both front gardens have raised beds- they’re easier to look
after and raise the planting up to where you can enjoy it and it also
occurs to me that raised beds will be a good substitute for a fence or a hedge –
they delineate your area clearly and they stop people wandering across your
patch, but they are more colorful and more interesting than a fence. The water
features had some lovely ideas at BBC Gardeners World live and there was a
certain level of realism which I thought was quite interesting, picking
up on the naturalistic trend and there was this amazing pond with these huge
horse sculptures in it and the water sort of cascades around the feet of the
horses as if they actually were galloping through and I thought that was
quite interesting, and there were also a number of ponds where the water was
dropping down as if it was a waterfall even though a rather stylized waterfall
and a couple of streams that looked quite naturalistic, and I think this goes onto
the next idea which is to have variety in your hard landscaping. If you’re
laying a path a driveway, a patio or another surface, then consider using
several different kinds of materials. You could combine pebbles and brick or
you could combine gravel and brick and it links to this naturalistic and
eco-friendly side of gardening today. Covering either your front garden or
your back terrace with a swathe of concrete or with continuous pavers all
concreted together is linked to flash flooding in towns and cities. Concrete
can’t absorb rain water so it all floods into the drainage system and if there’s
a big storm it overloads it. And also too much non-permeable hard landscaping
affects soil health because worms can’t live under acres of paving, but the
designs at BBC Gardeners World live showed that you can have very attractive
solutions by varying your paving in your paths. It is important to note however
that when you lay some gravel it’s not permeable, because it has to be set on a
concrete base so do discuss a permeable paving with your supplier or the person
who’s going to install it. Pavers with gaps in paths were a very nice touch and
they relate to a number of things like cottage garden planting and naturalistic
planting and environmentally friendly planting. I rather love these pavers in
the Watchmakers Garden designed by Alexandra Froggatt which won Best in Show. This is just a simple path made of standard pavers, with gaps in between and
in the Revelation garden there was a mosaic pebble path, which looks wonderful
and that leads me on to curves in garden design. Now it can be difficult to plant
around curves in smaller gardens because sometimes you create sort of pinch
points where there’s very little room for planting, but curves do look good and
they feel natural and there were a number of gardens at BBC Gardeners World
live showing how to have curves in small town gardens. I rather like this Here We
Go Round the Mulberry Bush garden designed by Hana Leonard which combines
traditional planting and contemporary materials and it gets around the pinch
point problem by having the circle in the middle with big curved beds around
the edges and finally – beds in gardens! Has the garden as an outdoor room taken
another step forward? There was a big four-poster bed in the Glimpses of
Southeast Asia garden. However as I left BC Gardeners World live I caught
glimpses of a really quite large thunderstorm heading towards it and I do
wonder how outdoor beds would survive in our climate. There are links in the
description below to some of the garden designers and BBC Gardeners World Live
and if you’ve enjoyed this please hit ‘like’ because then I’ll know you’d like
to see more garden shows and if you haven’t subscribed to the Middle-sized
Garden Youtube channel we usually upload on Saturdays with tips ideas and
inspiration for your garden- thank you for watching – goodbye!


  • Reply gardener June 13, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Another excellent video. Thank you again for bringing us so many lovely ideas.

  • Reply Foliage Fan June 13, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Nice to see what was on show at the event. I think this is the coldest June we've had in a while but it looks like you had a lovely time in Birmingham. I'm a huge fan of green gardens so it's nice to see it trending at the moment. Loving the horse sculptures too.

  • Reply Jennifer Santos June 13, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I think your calendar's a bit off Alexandra! Tis Thursday today 😀 Well, I'm glad cottage & wildlife gardens are still on trend because we gardeners should be making every effort to save bees & other creatures from extinction. I miss garden shows, there are none that I know of here in Portugal, so thanks for this lovely & informative video 🙂

  • Reply jeanie ling June 13, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Your curious mind makes every video interesting, whether a garden show, a trouble spot, or various seasons in your own back garden. Now, please ship me just one full-size horse sculpture. I have the perfect location for a simple hitching-post fence. : ) (if wishes were horses)

  • Reply kiwiken June 13, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing so many inspiring ideas.

  • Reply Tracey Pye June 13, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I like the glimpse of the show. I’ll be there Sunday. Looking for ideas and hoping to pick up a bargain or two.

  • Reply Catherine Dean June 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks so much for covering this show!

  • Reply Heather Stephens June 13, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Loved the pebble mosaic path & the horses! Some really great ideas. Thank you so much 😊

  • Reply Pat Pezzi June 13, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Love the horses, however I think it would be difficult to translate the idea into a regular house garden.

  • Reply Botanical Treasures June 13, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    Yes, I’m learning to appreciate the different shades, textures, and shapes of greenery. Grasses are so graceful and come in so many useful heights. 🌾🌾🌾🌾

  • Reply FlowerGrower Smith June 13, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Boy, those gardens are just wonderful – thanks for posting and your brilliant commentary.

  • Reply cheryl weatherhog June 13, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful event with us it was most enjoyable.

  • Reply Iza Szydlowska June 14, 2019 at 1:08 am

    I love these ideas!!! Thank you for filming and your thoughtful narration

  • Reply Basia57 June 14, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you so much for a beautifully presented and full of ideas, video! Please, more coverage of garden shows! Only found your channel a couple of days ago, so a lot of catching up to do! x

  • Reply neverlostforwords June 15, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Many great ideas here provide mere mortal gardeners (such as me) with inspiration and new directions. Many thanks for this compelling montage of innovative show gardens at Gardeners World Live, Alexandra.

  • Reply Joann Micik June 16, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I like the idea of repurposing big containers for planting. I really liked the dahlias and veg planted in the old tin washtub. I'm seeing a lot more use of Kniphofia lately; they seem to be very popular.

  • Reply Jill Wyzywany June 17, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Wonderful as always

  • Reply Anita Day June 17, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Watching your channel from Australia……..its excellent. Thank you so much. Anita

  • Reply Well Braced June 19, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you for this lovely presentation of new and thought-provoking ideas!

  • Reply Maryland gardening newbie June 29, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    I loved the naturalist look, the curved gardens (especially that amazing wooden bench) and the idea of creating your own waterfall effect. Thanks!

  • Reply Gotu Umraniya July 20, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    wouldn't those stones be a hassle for the plants? i wonder how water would go in if plants are covered with stones

  • Reply S a g G August 6, 2019 at 1:21 am

    Love your videos

  • Reply Ann-Marie King September 14, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    So many lovely ideas … thanks for taking us with you!

  • Leave a Reply