Flower show planting ideas – May

Discover beautiful plant combinations for May spotted at flower shows like Chelsea and Malvern.

The flower show period brings forth a burst of inspiration in the form of glorious blooms at shows like Chelsea and Malvern.


While the crème de la crème of garden designers spend months creating faultless floral spectacles, you can recreate a bit of the show’s glamour in your own garden – without the designer price tag! We’ve combed through plant combinations
from Chelsea and other flower shows around the country, to find the very best, including beautiful plants like salvias, astrantias and cosmos.

Get planting now with our flower show plant combinations for a medal-worthy garden in no time.

Pale blue flowers, like those of campanulas, are great for shady corners as they bounce light around.

Poppies and geraniums

Opium poppies and hardy geraniums might look like delicate flowers but they’re true garden survivors, self-seeding and popping up in the most unexpected of places: luckily they’re so pretty you won’t mind. Here’s how to take cuttings from poppies.

The plants
Papaver ‘Ladybird’. H x S 45cm x 15cm. Care: enjoys sun and free-draining soil. 
Geranium ‘Bill Wallis’. H x S 35cm x 40cm. Care: trim after flowering for a second flush.


Tibetan cherry and cow parsley

This flower show plant combination puts a modern twist on a woodland scene. Here the stems are the stars, with coppery Tibetan cherry against the stalks and lacy foliage of purple cow parsley.

The plants
Prunus serrula. H x S 10m x 10m (after 20yrs). Care: prune only in summer to avoid disease. 
Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’. H x S 100cm x 30cm. Care: happy in sun or shade.


Irises and peonies

Choose rich, saturated hues from the same side of the colour wheel and you get a sumptuous gem-like look, often used to great effect by Chelsea designers.

The plants
Iris ‘Black Swan’. H x S 120cm x 60cm. Care: half bury rhizomes in full sun.
Paeonia ‘Buckeye Belle’. H x S 90cm x 90cm. Care: deadhead and let leaves die naturally.


Pimpinella and geums

These two moisture-loving perennials are a perfect match, the pink pimpinella and bright red geum a winning blend for moist, free-draining soil.

The plants
Pimpinella major ‘Rosea’. H x S 120cm x 60cm. Care: prefers moist but not waterlogged soil.
Geum ‘Mrs J. Bradshaw’. H x S 60cm x 60cm. Care: keep damp and deadhead regularly.


Dryopteris and campanulas

Pale blue flowers, like those of campanulas, are great for shady corners as they bounce light around, and this delicate little bellflower shines out against the lush green ferns. Here are 10 more shade-loving perennials to grow.

The plants
Dryopteris filix-mas. H x S 100cm x 100cm. Care: likes cool shade and humus-rich soil.
Campanula ‘Samantha’. H x S 25cm x 30cm. Care: free draining soil in sun or shade.


For more flower show planting ideas, take a look at our features on flower show planting ideas for June, and our flower show planting ideas for July.

Mix it up

Don’t be afraid to experiment and swap out the plants used in these combinations – most plants are easy to move if you (or they) are unhappy with where they’re planted.