Arthur Parkinson responds to the unconventional garden trend taking over Chelsea Flower Show

The horticultural expert foreshadows a tasty trend that will fill your garden with an abundance of beauty – here is what you need to know

Runner beans growing in a vegetable garden on a wigwam made of wooden sticks
(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography)

Few flower festivals possess the prestige of the Chelsea Flower Show, the glorious honoring of horticultural that observes – and creates – garden trends for the season ahead. 

Now entering its sixth day, the celebration has already showcased plenty of new ideas that are set to excite green-thumbed enthusiasts – but one Chelsea Flower Show trend, in particular, has already made waves across Chelsea. 

The trend in question involves growing vegetables and plants together in one space – with an abundance of benefits in the garden – and the kitchen.

pak choi at RHS No Dig Allotment designed by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty at Hampton Court Garden Festival 2021

(Image credit: Beth Murton/Future)

While this kitchen garden idea has already dominated Chelsea, garden experts predict it will take over patches far beyond the festival. Here, The Pottery Gardener, Arthur Parkinson, reacts to the idea that's set to be big news in the year ahead.

Alongside the trend's aesthetic (and taste) benefits, Arthur Parkinson discusses its benefits for wildlife. 'It's really good because it means rather than having a monoculture of one crop, you're making it much better for insects,' he says.

He continues: 'Flowers and veg make sense. If you grow your sweet peas amongst your runner beans, you're going to get more bees, and therefore you'll get more pollination. It just makes the vegetable garden look fuller, more romantic, and abundant.' 

colorful chard at RHS No Dig Allotment designed by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty at Hampton Court Garden Festival 2021

(Image credit: Holly Crossley/Future)

Plus, Arthur shares the trend is also effective as 'organic pest control' as you are naturally protecting your vegetables with flowers. And, with its organic benefits and palatable produce, it is unsurprising that Arthur Parkinson is not exclusive in his adoration for this method of companion planting

Landscape designer Alan Williams similarly showcased the trend through his Parsley Box Garden at Chelsea, where he combined vegetables such as kohlrabi and cabbages amongst beautiful blooms in stunning shades of yellow and orange mauve and burgundy.

'Cook, eat, and garden within the same space,' Alan shares in the discussion of his show garden. He explores the combination of vegetables and flowers, which also breaks conventional small vegetable garden ideas and 'pushes boundaries.' 

vegetables growing in amongst flowers in a raised garden bed

Veg growing alongside flowers in The Parsley Box Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

(Image credit: Beth Murton/Future)

'It's about surrounding yourself with beauty, but it's also practical in a lovely way. I love the fact that veg gardens are raised beds – but actually, they don't all need to be the same height,' he says. 'Let's mix it up, so it grows with you like a garden… you should push the boundary,' he adds.

'So try it out. Put some carrots in, put some beetroot in, put some lettuce in a gap in the garden border. It's just those little things you can do that will transform your garden and add even more texture and colors. It just gives you joy.'

This is the garden idea that you're about to see everywhere – you heard it here first. 

Megan Slack

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Gardeningetc, Livingetc, and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.