Best In Show

Gardeners will flock to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show but even those without green fingers can enjoy beautiful blooms at home.

Gabrielle Fagan explains how to grow-your-own style.

Spring’s weather may not be going according to plan with only occasional bursts of sunshine, but there’s no need to put up with dull, drab rooms.

When the RHS Chelsea Flower Show blooms into life once again, on May 21-25, we’ll all be reminded of the transformative powers of flowers – and a pretty bouquet could breathe new life into your home too.

Refreshing decor with floral patterns on wallpaper, fabrics or even a group of objects decorated with splashy blooms or delicate buds will ensure a perfect seasonal makeover.

“Flowers, especially roses, are a big theme this season and can be used to adorn just about anything,” says Caroline Hodgson, buying manager at Barker and Stonehouse.

“From tiny rose prints on cushions, curtains and bedding to large roses in full bloom painted on headboards, they look gorgeous on a variety of interiors and furnishings.”

Florals pair particularly well with a pastel palette of soft, ice-cream shades, says Selina Lake, author of Pretty Pastel Style.

“For as long as we’ve been enjoying flowers in our homes, we’ve also been stitching, printing and weaving them onto fabric,” she points out.

“These artificial blooms come in every size and style, so it’s easy to find a print that works with your pretty pastel room.

“Roses are a favourite motif, but a little shopping around will reveal textiles adorned with a huge range of blooms – everything from poppies to water lilies.”

While gardeners flock to the Chelsea Flower Show to admire carefully cultivated blooms, you can have your own good show in an instant with a few well-chosen floral pieces. Who said there was any need for green fingers?

Follow the experts guide to grow-your-own floral style.


Follow your taste when creating a floral setting. Boastful bouquets or hot tropical blooms have their place but if you’re someone who prefers an English country garden look there’s plenty to inspire.

Delicate florals make the perfect accompaniment to a white scheme, they can punctuate with bright splashes of colour and create subtle pockets of interest without destroying a tranquil feel.

Dunelm Mill is a home horticulturist’s delight with a Summer Paints bedding set, from £14.99, liberally covered with pink, plum and yellow flowers or its more subtle Pink Bloom cushion, £14.99. Its range of artificial flowers is indistinguishable from the real thing (apart from the lack of perfume) – try the Red Poppy Arrangement in a glass vase, £19.99.

Artificial flowers from a selection at Dunelm Mill

Similarly, Marks & Spencer’s new Colourfield Floral bedset, from £29.50, has a meadow full of blooms on a pure white background, and is available in stores. A Katie Alice English Garden porcelain jug, £17, from Creative Tops could be a finishing touch for a bedside table.

:: PICK OF THE BUNCH: Conjure easy to look after plants in an instant with a Geranium Wallpaper Mural, from £79, DigetexHome; Graham & Brown floral ‘Home’ decorative letters, currently on offer at £28 from Very; and a Dogwood Branches wall sticker, £13.99, Dotty Frog Decor.

Dogwood Branches wall decals, Dotty Frog decor


Big blooms in vibrant colours boast a confidence in decor design and work brilliantly in contemporary settings.

Be careful not to get carried away so that the sheer vibrancy and pattern make a statement rather than dominate, and then sit back and wait for the flowery compliments.

Laura Ashley’s a natural destination for those who love to use petal power and its Chiswick Cranberry collection with wallpaper and fabrics featuring heavy red roses is a classic. Wallpaper currently on offer from £25.20 a roll.

Pink tropical blooms work beautifully on a Georgia Fabric Armchair, £829 from Darlings of Chelsea.

Just as garden beds need dressing with new plants at this time of year, so too does your sofa. Scatter new cushions – no digging involved! Taupe velvet cushion with floral applique, currently on offer at £22.40 from Debenhams.

PICK OF THE BUNCH: A Royal Albert Country Rose 12-piece dinner set, currently half price at £60, from Debenhams.


It’s the sheer inventiveness of Vic Brotherson’s fresh flower arrangements which impress just as much as their beauty.

The florist and author of the inspiring Vintage Flowers constantly thinks outside the vase, proving that any container dressed with the right blooms can look stunning.

“My advice is to have as many water-holding vessels and containers as possible,” she says. “Feel free to experiment with cornflowers in enamel jugs, dahlias in marmalade pots, or hydrangeas in pickling jars, and generous bouquets in milk churns.

“It breaks my heart to see amazing bunches of flowers perched half-heartedly in glass cylinders. It’s fun to push the boundaries of traditional flower arranging and to work your own magic with flowers.

“Make rosy and random arrangements that will dance joyfully in a medley of multi-coloured jugs, buckets and bottles.”

TIP: Feminine full-headed blooms and gentle ice-cream colours seem to be at their best in the spring and throughout the summer. Frothy lime green or subtle grey foliage will provide a lovely background and set off the roundness of peonies, hydrangeas and roses.

PICK OF THE BUNCH: Don’t forget the heady aroma of flowers. Laura Ashley’s Summer Meadow blends a summer bouquet with inspiring notes of orange blossom, hyacinth, jasmine and powdery violets. A candle, £14. Diffuser sticks, £20.


Creative Tops: 01536 207 710/

Darlings of Chelsea: 020 7371 5745/

Debenhams: 08445 616 161/

Digetex Home: 0161 873 8891/

Dotty Frog Decor: 01420 511 405/

Dunelm Mill: 08451 656 565/

Laura Ashley: 0871 230 2301/

Marks & Spencer: 0845 302 1234/


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