An old cake tin and teapot improvise as strawberry and thyme planters, in a visually pleasing arrangement- Image courtesy of Alladio Sims Garden and Landscape Design Ltd, Alladio Sims Show Garden @ RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018
September is harvest time, when we finally reap the rewards of home-grown fruit and vegetables, says Emanuela Sims of Alladio Sims Garden Landscape Design.Today so many of us want to grow edibles at home, but often space and time constraints work against us. Indeed, growing edibles takes a lot of time and effort, but there are ways of integrating a mini vegetable garden in our garden space to create a visually pleasing and tasty display.
Making the best of the decorative qualities of fruit and veg growing is indeed the main challenge for a garden designer wanting to create fabulous outdoor spaces. Seen closely, productive plants can indeed be highly decorative and magically transform the aesthetics of a garden – crinkled cabbage leaves add texture to borders, juicy lettuce leaves can be very lush and multicoloured, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs make for wonderful hanging baskets, and who can resist the temptation to snap a fruit or two every time you brush past them?
Whether you choose to dot edibles within the borders to fill in those unsightly empty gaps and create interesting combinations, or to cluster them in containers or a series of raised beds that make maintenance less taxing, the possibilities are endless and so is the fun to be had.
This year, for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, we were asked to produce a series of edibles’ displays to demonstrate how pretty herbs and vegetables can be in a garden if used in a creative way. We had lots of positive feedback from visitors who were amazed at how pretty the combinations looked and even more so to discover how easy it was to recreate them at home.
It was a fun experience and we came up with a series of really stunning displays that make the best of vintage upcycled props to convert them into useful edibles’ containers. Much of the fun was devising clever ways to reuse some of these discarded objects – and so old pans got a second chance to live as deep planters, old baths became mini allotments, coffee makers were reused as herb pots, shallot chicken feeding trays became pretty seed trays, wicker baskets were lined with stapled plastic bags and turned into French chic planters, milk churns became very useful courgette and pumpkin pots and wooden vegetable cases were lined and filled with cut and come again multi-coloured lettuces.
If you are a foodie this is the sort of gardening that offers a chance to show off and be as adventurous as you like, experimenting with new and exciting varieties to make dishes really stand out. Just pick up some interesting seed varieties and start sowing straight away.
The rest is just lots of fun, and for those who relish the challenge of giving a second breath of life to some of the discarded items in a garage or shed, then cluster a group together, staple some hessian around the containers you like the least and you will have created a stunning display that is easy to look after and water and that won’t cost the earth.
Looking ahead to next year, why limit your horizons? Try venturing out into the world of edible ornamentals, there is so much enjoyment to be had!Jon and Emanuela in the show garden they created for the Istanbul Flower Festival in 2016
Profile: Alladio Sims
Alladio Sims Garden Landscape Design Ltd was established in 2015 after Jon Sims and Emanuela Alladio collaborated on a Silver Gilt winning show garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The two directors continue their collaborative approach throughout their practice with Jon’s background in interior architecture giving distinctive spaces and Emanuela’s passion for plants and photographic eye adding great texture and contrast.essence info
Alladio Sims Garden Landscape Design Limited
Unit C Willow House, Dragonfly Place, London SE4 2FJWebsite: www.alladiosims.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org