Many of us have enjoyed some wee peeks at the Chelsea Flower Show with its beautiful show gardens. Like many gardens open to the public, the Chelsea ones inspire and delight, and the ooos and aaahs from visitors are almost deafening.

Designers have created fantasy gardens, a world apart from our own. We see so many plants that we can’t have but would love to grow in our own gardens, ones that are a tad better arranged, have  no die-back or pest damage and not a pestilential weed in sight.

We often don’t have the money or type of ground to accommodate these dream gardens, but we can sometimes cherry-pick one or two ideas.

The organisers, the RHS, are keen to promote the use of whatever sustainable products are feasible in a show that by its very nature is unsustainable. And climate change mitigation is an important factor in several exhibits.

I was interested to see that a few gardens, including The Flood Resilient Garden, suggested ways of mitigating the worst effects of torrential downpours. Predictably, much of its design was out of reach for most of our pockets but the underlying concept was interesting and some ideas were well worth trying out.

The lush sloping garden was densely planted, an ideal layout as this slowed down the flow of water. Some water that could be used during drier spells was stored in ornamental tanks at the side of a central swale. There was an elevated deck acting as a sitting area at one side of the swale opposite an earth mound that could be accessed by a bridge. The swale formed a stream, channeling water down through the garden to a pond, where water gradually soaked away. Sophisticated technology was used to quickly remove water before a prolonged wet spell.

OK, few of us could or would implement this idea in full, but the method of planting makes sense and many of the wet-tolerant species could and possibly should be used in our own plantings.

Some possibilities could include trees such as the alder that thrive in wetter parts of the ground and multi-stemmed shrubs and small trees like willow and elder. Low-growing bugle, Ajuga species, and marsh marigold, Caltha palustra, are a couple of many suitable low-growing species. Larger plants could include loosestrife, Lythrums and Lysimachias, and some irises such as Sibiricas.

On a small scale, we can always use water butts to store rain water or we could even invest in a special butt linked to planters which absorb rainwater and then feed any surplus to the butt. During a dry spell, you use a watering can. Several companies supply these butts, including Original Organics.

The Herald:

Plant of the week

Rosa spinossima, Rosa pimpinellifolia, the Scotch Rose, Burnet Rose. This beautiful but tough group of roses has nearly as many names as flowers. All highly scented, they can be white, pink or yellow, single or double.

Often used as a hedging rose as they are all very spiny, they mostly grow to about a metre. But the white single flowered species will get to at least twice that on a well-drained but reasonably fertile bank. Though if you find it at the back of sand dunes or in an abandoned quarry it may look more like a prostrate rose, only 60cm high.