Chelsea Flower Show: Take a load off

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This year’s Chelsea Flower Show has plenty of ideas, not least if all you want to do in the garden is sit back and relax, says Trish Lorenz

The Chelsea Flower Show, which takes place from 21 May, celebrates its centenary this year. Key trends are a focus on eco-friendly designs and the native environment and a move toward more muted palette of colours in both planting and furniture.

If you’re visiting the exhibition (, have a look at the Bank of Canada rooftop garden, which shows how city-dwellers can create a space that supports biodiversity, with living walls that don’t need watering and a wetland area designed to capture rain. The Homebase Garden, designed to encourage wildlife and the Australian Garden, which uses solar energy and locally sourced reclaimed materials, are also right on trend.

If you’re not going to the show but are looking for garden inspiration, there are plenty of high-street options. This year, outdoor style is all about choosing natural materials and combining them with a jolt of colour. Rattan and wicker are especially big and are now available in a range of colours and styles.

Hanging chairs and hammocks are also increasingly popular and the line between indoors and out continues to blur, with furniture that is versatile enough to be used in both the home and garden.When choosing outdoor furniture, think about the size of your space – measure up before you leave home as showrooms can be deceptively spacious – and the materials that will work best. If your furniture will be exposed to the elements, choose hard-wearing aluminium, plastic or timber. If you have a covered patio or storage space indoors, wicker and softer materials such as cotton are an option.

In style terms, clean lines will stay in fashion for longer, as will natural materials. Liven things up with vibrant outdoor cushions or deckchairs, which are simpler to update as trends change.

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