Romantic cottage garden planting is the real star of this year's Chelsea Flower Show

Forget the celebs and the cutting-edge design trends, it's the wild and wonderful cottage garden planting that is turning heads at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

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If you’re passionate about gardens, then the Chelsea Flower Show is not to be missed – whether you're lucky enough to visit in person, or watching it from the comfort of your living room. 

While the hot new trends in materials and landscaping featured at the show – along with the stars in attendance – will make the headlines, it is the abundance of wild, cottage garden-style planting that has captured the hearts of the Period Living magazine team this year.

Including several key show gardens, as well as smaller artisan schemes and exhibits in the pavilion, this romantic feel is evident in many of the designs in 2018. Even the more contemporary gardens have embraced this charming look, with country classics or wildflower-style meadows juxtaposed with blunt sculptural elements.

Welcome to Yorkshire

The gold medal-winning Welcome to Yorkshire garden, designed by Mark Gregory, is a particular highlight for 2018.

Featuring a rustic converted bothy on the edge of a woodland, with a buttercup meadow, babbling brook, drystone walling and romantic cottage planting, the garden celebrates Yorkshire’s natural materials and traditional crafts. 

The result is a charming, rural slice of the Yorkshire Dales that is guaranteed to inspire you to dust off your walking boots and escape for a week away.

A side view of the Welcome to Yorkshire garden at Chelsea Flower show

A brook runs beside a converted bothy situated at the edge of woodland in the Welcome to Yorkshire garden

(Image: © Beth Murton)

Seating area in the Welcome to Yorkshire garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Framed by glorious wisteria, the seating area at the side of the bothy feels like an enticing hideaway

(Image: © RHS)

The M&G Garden

The Mediterranean-inspired M&G garden, designed by Sarah Price and recipient of a gold medal, features terracotta toned walls made of rammed earth. This hard-edged, structural backdrop creates a contemporary contrast to the informal planting scheme.

Swathes of wild and wispy planting, including poppies, herbs, blue Catanache caerulea, Cistus, Digitalis isabelliana and single flowered roses, imbue a romantic, uncultivated feel reminiscent of holidays in the sun.

The M&G Garden at Chelsea Flower Show is Mediterranean inspired

Structures made of rammed earth form the backdrop to the M&G garden

(Image: © RHS)

The M&G Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Planting feels wild and suitable for a sunny Mediterranean climate

(Image: © RHS)

David Harber and Savills Garden

Featuring impressive sculptures and art, the David Harber and Savills Garden, created by Nic Howard, has a strong natural theme to its planting, which has been designed to attract insects, bees and butterflies

A variety of grasses give a wild edge and key plants include golden grass Stipa gigantea, purple-flowered bearded iris, caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyrus), vibrant pink Dianthus carthusianorum, Thalictrum, salvias, lupins and large-leaved Hosta 'Sum and Substance'

The David Harber and Savills garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Planting has a natural feel and is designed to attract wildlife, in the David Harber and Savills garden

(Image: © RHS)

The David Harber and Savills Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

From the end of the garden, the sculptures all perfectly line up to view a sculpture representing a nucleus of energy, which has the appearance of an eye with a sun at its centre

(Image: © RHS)

Trailfinders: A South African Wine Estate

Inspired by the Winelands of the Western Cape of South Africa, Trailfinders: A South African Wine Estate, designed by Jonathan Snow, features a charming Cape Dutch homestead complete with elegant sash windows.

A neat, formal garden at the front of the property has a very English cottage garden feel with its flowering dill, red-pink roses and spires of white foxgloves. This leads through a gate to a vineyard, then beyond to a wild and beautiful fynbos landscape featuring agapanthus, gladioli, kniphofias and pelargoniums among an evergreen, leathery-leaved Mediterranean-type shrubland.

Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate Garden at Chelsea Flower Show features a Cape Dutch homestead fronted by a charming cottage garden

(Image: © RHS)

The Trailfinders garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The formal garden leads through a vineyard then to a rugged fynbos landscape

(Image: © RHS)

The Claims Guys: A Very English Garden

Away from the main show garden area, the artisan gardens are full of delight and inspiration. Formality and informality go hand in hand in The Claims Guys: A Very English Garden, designed by Janine Crimmins. It's a celebration of craftsmanship and tradition that draws inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement.

Drystone walling includes a half-dome focal point, which is incredibly difficult to construct. When it comes to planting, box balls, cubes and low hedging contrast with looser planting, including foxgloves and phlox. A perfect traditional English garden.

The Claims Guys: A Very English Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The half dome focal point is one of the most difficult designs to create with drystone

(Image: © RHS)

The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC

Winner of Best Show Garden at Chelsea Flower Show for 2018, the Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC features a stunning garden room nestled among rich woodland planting and soft textured perennials.

The journey through the garden, from wilderness to calm and tranquility, is a metaphor for a child's experience when supported by the NSPCC.

The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC

A bespoke cedar pavilion is a haven of tranquility at the heart of the Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC

(Image: © RHS)

The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC

The garden is a metaphor for the emotional transition that takes place in a child as they experience the positive impact of the NSPCC’s work

(Image: © Melanie Griffiths)

Key plants

Period Living magazine has picked out its favourite plants from the Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

David Austin's Emily Brontë rose:

David Austin's Emily Bronte rose

A new addition for David Austin Roses in 2018, the Emily Brontë rose is glorious for both looks and fragrance. The perfect tribute to the author celebrating 200 years since her birth

(Image: © Melanie Griffiths)

Foxgloves:

Foxgloves were abundant at Chelsea Flower Show in 2018

Foxgloves were abundant at Chelsea Flower Show in 2018, and are essential for any English cottage planting scheme

(Image: © Melanie Griffiths)

Peonies:

Peonies at Chelsea Flower Show

The Period Living team were bowled over by these Pink Hawaiian Coral peonies in the pavilion

(Image: © Melanie Griffiths)

Lupins:

Lupins at Chelsea Flower Show

Lupins were big news at this year's Chelsea Flower Show, seen in multiple colours in gardens both traditional and modern

(Image: © Melanie Griffiths)

Alliums:

Alliums at Chelsea Flower Show

Vibrant, showy alliums are always a favourite, but we were bowled over by this stunning display in the pavilion

(Image: © Melanie Griffiths)