The top 2 trends to emerge from Chelsea Flower Show 2021

The famous horticultural festival is a melting pot of future trends – here are the top two you need to know about

Yeo Valley organic garden designed by Chelsea Flower Show
(Image credit: Britt Willoughby Dyer)

Few flower festivals rival the prestige of the Chelsea Flower Show, the influential event that celebrates horticultural glory – and sets garden trends for the future.

Amongst those in the know at Chelsea is green-thumbed garden expert Arthur Parkinson – the Pottery Gardener, author, and garden trends forecaster who shared his predictions for the coming seasons exclusively with H&G. So, what do you need to prioritize to get ahead of the crowd? 

From the heart of Chelsea, Arthur shares his predictions of the two significant garden trends that will take over our front and backyard ideas. Here is what you need to know.

1. Meadows

Chelsea Flower Show Yeo Valley Garden

Yeo Valley Garden

(Image credit: Chelsea Flower Show)

Conservation was at the heart of many of the garden displays at Chelsea this year. This year's garden designers lean't heavily into rewilding, filling the gardens with meadows. Though, nothing showcases this rustic aesthetic quite like wild meadows – which you can create from a hiatus in lawn mowing. 

'What I really hope is taken away from the show is stop mowing your lawn every week. Mow every four weeks, [create] paths through meadows,' Arthur says. An example of this is seen in the RHS Queen's Green Canopy Garden which includes over 3,500 plants, and the Gold Medal Yeo Valley Garden. 

he Florence Nightingale Garden at Chelsea Flower Show

The Florence Nightingale Garden

(Image credit: RHS / Neil Hepworth)

'What's lovely about the Chelsea this year – and all Chelsea shows – is that they encompass the idea of gardens fighting the biodiversity decline and mass extinction. It's no longer acceptable to just be decorative. It's has to join conservation through gardening, and that comes from using peat-free compost – to the plants that are chosen,' he continues. 

COP26 garden at Chelsea Flower Show

(Image credit: RHS / Neil Hepworth)

How else can you accentuate the 'meadow' look in your garden? In the discussion of his flower bed ideas, Arthur shares his recommendations for blooms that not only look good – but do good too. 

'We've got single dahlias and anemone dahlia's full of nectar and pollen for bees. They'll flower until the first frost of winter,' he says. 'It's all about creating wildlife corridors but not having to be messy. It's about knowing what flowers look gorgeous, but what flowers are also good for pollinators too.'

Arthur's display for the Gaze Burvill stand at Chelsea was equally inspired by this natural trend. Vases were filled with snippets of hedgerow bushes, grasses, dahlias and honeysuckle.

2. Ponds 

The IBC Pocket Forest. Designed by Sara Edwards. Container Garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

IBC Pocket Forest

(Image credit: RHS / Tim Sandall)

Ponds in garden's aren't ground-breaking, but this watery trend was popping up in all shapes and forms at Chelsea this year. While garden pond ideas are not initially synonymous with meadows, Arthur suggests this second garden trend showcases stark similarities. 

'Like meadows, we've lost almost 80% of wetlands. Water brings a new dimension to a garden – reflection, movement and sound – but also it brings wildlife in. Songbirds need to bathe, and hedgehogs need to drink,' Arthur explains. 

'I think it's wonderful, there are a lot of aquatic plants – there are beautiful water lilies, flag irises on the side of the pond,' he adds. 

Hot Tin Roof garden at Chelsea Flower Show

The Hot Tin Roof Garden

(Image credit: Ellie Edkins)

'It just brings that edge, even if it's just a tiny pool, even a nice birdbath within a herbaceous border. Even a dustbin lid up-turned on bricks filled half with pebbles that you can just refresh every week – that will do a huge amount for bees and birds. Water is good for us and good for wildlife,' Arthur says.  

While many of the show gardens included garden pond ideas, the smartest uses we saw were in the new container garden category. The Hot Tin Roof Garden and IBC Pocket Forest both showcased free-standing ponds that could be incorporated into a garden whatever the size.

Chelsea has given us the garden idea that will set us right on trend – and contribute to the well-being of the wildlife in the process. Long may these nature-inspired trends continue.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.