Yesterday, I expected to learn gardening lessons from the Chelsea Flower Show as I embarked on a captivating journey through its flowers and trees. Gardening is one of my passions.  Some days I’m torn: turn left to the new greenhouse, or right to my deliciously paint-filled studio.

I was ready to soak up loads of green-finger know-how at Chelsea. My head was bursting with questions.  How to propagate? What sort of feed to give? When to transplant?  What I didn’t expect was a newfound perspective on gardening as sublime artistry.

When you think about it, all of those questions I wanted to ask about enhancing our garden could be almost the same as the decisions I make when I paint:

  • What paper should I use?
  • What sort of atmosphere would I like to evoke?
  • What colours will work for this?
  • What size brushes do I need?
  • Where is the centre of interesting in this painting.

There are so many aspects to consider when designing a garden.  Creators of the Chelsea gardens need to be thinking about all of them to make a space that delivers precisely the immersive experience they’re aiming for.


Good composition gently leads the eye. A pathway to a seat in a garden at Chelsea Flower ShowHere’s what I noticed at Chelsea:

    • The most successful gardens had a theme that ran through all aspects of the design
    • The trend in colour was to combine warm and cool colours in the flower combinations
    • Most striking were the flowers (often irises) with multicoloured petals that had a watercolour likeness
    • Small details made a huge difference
    • There were definite trends in colour palettes – purple and yellow is this year’s most popular colour combination. Deep pinks were a close second.
    • Repurposed items were made into features of the gardens.


Flamboyant irises at Chelsea Flower Show with a palette drawn from the flower colours

The painting lessons from Chelsea Flower Show

  1. Play with your palette:  Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold and lively shades to bring life to your artwork.
  2. Consider composition:  Experiment with different angles, shape sizes,  focal points, and balance to lead the viewer’s eye.
  3. Embrace different media: The Chelsea Flower Show showcases a variety of gardening techniques, and the same applies to painting. Explore different techniques and styles. Don’t be afraid to get messy and try new things.
  4. Seek inspiration in new experiences: Spend time outdoors. Explore new places. Observe the play of light, the interplay of colours, and the textures. Bring some of these details into your studio work.
  5. Practice patience: Just like creating a glorious garden, painting takes time and patience. Don’t rush the process. Embrace the journey and enjoy every stage.

Finally remember – Even the ordinary can be extraordinary. Things we see every day in our gardens or when taking a walk can be spectacular when we pay attention to them.

PS: If you love painting flowers, you may want to consider joining Aine Divine’s workshop on painting flowers in mixed media.

(Credit: The photo is mine but the garden in the header of this post is by Sarah Price