5 design tips to take from the new balcony gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show 2021

The Chelsea Flower Show is presenting balcony gardens for the first time, and they're bursting with ideas

RHS Chelsea Sky Sanctuary balcony garden by Michael Coley
(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

Earlier this year the RHS announced the new Chelsea Flower Show balcony gardens category. It might be a first for the prestigious London-based flower show, but it was a welcome addition for many urban gardeners.

 A garden that is little more than the corner of a balcony is the reality for many, but the Chelsea Flower Show balcony garden entries prove just how much can be done with a small space. 

These balcony ideas are invaluable for anyone whose space is very limited, and they come from some of the best garden designers in the country. Here are the lessons we'll take away from Chelsea Flower Shows balcony displays.

Chelsea Flower Show 2021 Balcony Gardens

1. Make a statement with tropical plants

Arcadia balcony garden designed by Martha Krempel

Arcadia balcony garden designed by Martha Krempel

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

Bold tropical plants are a major component of the Arcadia balcony garden designed by Martha Krempel. Speaking to Livingetc, she said that she chose yucca specifically because 'they can cope with being in a container. 

She also had a hand-painted mural added behind the plants for an effect of 'total escape'. Even a tiny space can become an imaginary window, so follow Martha's example and use all of it. 

2. Maximise planting space with planters

balcony with trees and red tinged plants

Balcony of Blooms by Alexandra Noble

(Image credit: RHS / Sarah Cuttle)

Think you can't create a wild garden atmosphere on your balcony, Alexandra Noble's Balcony of Blooms is going to make you reassess your small garden ideas. Instead of traditional flower boxes, concrete planters help maximize the opportunities for greenery.

'My main aim was to really maximize as much planting space as possible,' explains the designer Alexandra. 'Get lots of green, even though we've only got a small space.' 

'So we've got this incredible semi-evergreen grass, long-flowering perennials, and grasses that give you this hazy effect. A little bit of privacy but you can still see out to an extent.'

3. Invest in statement furniture

RHS Chelsea Sky Sanctuary balcony garden by Michael Coley

RHS Chelsea Sky Sanctuary balcony garden by Michael Coley

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

It may be that your balcony garden is really tiny and won't fit in much furniture at all, not even a table and chairs. Rather than forcing a conventional patio layout into a very small space, focus on one statement piece, like the beautifully positioned hanging chair in the Sky Sanctuary balcony garden by Michael Coley. 

The best garden furniture should never overwhelm the space; instead, it should provide a focal point. 

4. Soften the look with colour coordination

The Landform Balcony Garden by Nicola Hale

The Landform Balcony Garden by Nicola Hale

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

If you want a balcony garden that looks smart and well-put-together, you can't go wrong with color coordination. 

In The Landform Balcony Garden by Nicola Hale, soft, on-trend grey is used throughout, which creates a relaxing and cocooning space. The restrained use of color also distracts from the small size of the balcony.

5. Make the most of the floorspace

Green Sky Pocket Garden designed by James Smith

Green Sky Pocket Garden designed by James Smith

(Image credit: RHS / Sarah Cuttle)

When including greenery on your balcony, don't feel restricted to pots or planters. This balcony designed by James Smith is a perfect example of how creative you can be with your design. 

The entire floor has been transformed into a giant planter. In between paving stone slabs, moss, herbs and other great ground-cover plants have been planted to create a glorious green carpet.

Whether you're choosing plants or furniture, these simple yet effective ideas from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are well worth exploring. 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is Consumer Editor across Future home titles; she has a background in academic research and is the author of London Writing of the 1930s; she has written about literature, architecture, and photography, and has a special interest in high-end interior design.