6 take home trends of the RHS Urban Show

Take a fresh look at your urban garden with ideas and inspiration from the show

Happy Houseplants with GrowTropicals

1. Right plant, right place

Ever bought a beautiful houseplant and taken it home to watch it quickly wither and die, only to later discover, that maybe putting it on a dark shelf above a radiator may not have been the best idea? Happy Houseplants with GrowTropicals want to make such fatal disappointments a thing of the past. By identifying the space you have, then finding the plants suited to grow there, they are bringing the Right Plant, Right Place philosophy to indoor growing.  Their display focused on three areas: light-loving plants, happy in a bright room, low-light plants, which can tolerate a darker space and thirsty plants, ideal for a humid environment like a kitchen or bathroom. Each plant was displayed on a shelf like a living work of art, with QR codes leading to care-advice pages. Increasingly, good houseplant shops are taking the time to share advice and tips on aftercare as indoor gardening becomes more established and moves on from the old standard of a moth orchid bought at a supermarket and destined for the bin. 

The Godmother of Right Plant, Right Place, Beth Chatto was also represented at the show in the Beth Chatto Gardens Biodiverse Containers content cube. Here, that same ethos was brought to an outside urban garden, possibly rented or on a balcony, where containers provide an opportunity to welcome wildlife.
Take home: Think place first what plants should I get for this space, not where can I put this plant?

2. Reuse your refuse

Bottle planters
Sustainablility is at the heart of the RHS Urban Show as is the need to cater for every budget. Continers were made from old kitchenware and upcycled packaging. Milk cartons housed microgreens and catering tubs became mushroom planters on the Garage Gardening cube. Plastic bottle wall planters on one of the Cloudscapes balconies enabled vertical growing in a small space and compostable cardboard boxes filled with mini meadows formed a modernist sculpture on the Mad About Land Gardenware installation. 
Take home:  Grow don’t throw.

3. Grow up

Flourish Manchester's floral arch at RHS Urban Show
Urban gardens are often defined by their lack of space. The show demonstrated how to make the most of what you have by growing up walls, on roofs and overhead. The How to Grow Your Own content cube had hanging baskets swaying over shelving, packed with propagating plants. The Flourish Manchester floral arch bombarded visitors from above with suspended poppy seedheads and draping pothos. Climbers and wall planters made the most of space on the Cloudscape balconies.
Take home: If your garden isn’t long or wide, why not make it higher?

4. Shady dealings

Urban Shade content cube by Conal Mcguire
The most common question that urban gardeners have is how to grow with the shade cast by surrounding buildings? It’s not a problem – it’s an opportunity, according to Conal Mcguire and Jason Williams. The Urban Shade content cube showcased growing frames (also seen on Conal Mcguire’s RHS Tatton Park garden) filled with shade-tolerant planting to create a beautiful, desirable garden which is no compromise.  On the Cloudscapes Shade Patio made with Norcotts, Jason Williams incorporated wildlife habitats and used orange containers to bring a dash of colour among the lush ferns.
Take home: Embrace the shade and pick plants that love it, then you will too.

5. Mini-farms

Mushroom growing on the Garage Gardening content cube at the RHS Urban Show
Living in a town or city may make growing your own food a little more challenging, especially if you don’t have an allotment or access to a large garden. However, even a windowsill provides enough space for microgreens or herbs that can garnish a  salad or give your sandwich a fresh twist. The Garage Gardening content cube showed how microgreens and mushrooms can be extensively farmed indoors with growlights and moisture-controlled cabinets. 
How to Grow Your Own demonstrated more traditional means of growing with clear Perspex containers showing the root system of peas at different stages of growth, and examples of propagating from cuttings rooting in water to air-layering of pothos. The Cloudscapes Urban Farm and Community Garden showed edibles growing among ornamentals and put the case for food growing to be included in the planning of green spaces in housing developments.
Take home: Even growing just one edible plant is worth the rewards you reap.

6. Inside out (and vice versa)

Floral bedroom of the Blue Diamond display
As the climate changes, the line between what is a houseplant and what is a garden plant is becoming increasingly blurred. This is especially true for urban gardens where the heat and shelter from building walls creates microclimates, which enable more tropical plants to be grown outdoors. Similarly the RHS Urban Show saw plants usually grown in allotments, being grown indoors as microgreens, or pots of herbs and edible flowers on a windowsill. The Blue Diamond Garden Centre display reimagined rooms as indoor gardens with a whimsical bedroom filled with plants bursting from cabinets and a jungle bathroom. It may not be practical in reality to have orchids peeping out of your sock drawer, but it did highlight how we could take another look at how we define a garden.
Take home: Think outside the box, and don’t be constrained by traditional definitions of what is a houseplant.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.