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10 best garden furniture

Bring a bit of flower show style to your own outside space with one of these hard-wearing pieces

Now the Chelsea Flower Show’s over, we can take stock of everything we saw – and bring some of the magic home to our own gardens. It is the event that kicks off the gardening season in style; a floral fashion show of colour and creativity that sets trends and provides ideas for professional and amateur gardeners alike. Chelsea’s crowd-wowing centrepiece – the show gardens – often cost eye-watering sums of cash to conceive and construct, but for the garden lover of more modest means, elements from these design-led paradises can be plucked and used for your own inspiration.

We mingled among the evergreens and annuals to bring you Chelsea-inspired additions for your own garden or patio. We’ve picked out stylish yet hard-wearing furniture that’s fit to cope with the rigours of British summertime.

1. Relax Vulcano Hammock Chair: £49.99, Simply Hammocks 

Looking like the kind of thing used on Canadian camping trips to hoist food away from hungry bears, this sturdy, weather-resistant hammock seat provides comfortable seating for anyone with a tree strong enough to take the weight. The red, orange and yellow stripes match the colour scheme used in Manoj Malde’s Beneath a Mexican Sky, the silver-gilt winning Mediterranean garden. Just don’t swing too close to that cactus...

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2. GardenBenches Westminster Teak Garden Bench, 150cm: £249, GardenBenches

This quality teak bench is the sort of piece that would have worked perfectly in the calming communal spaces of Nigel Dunnett’s Greening Grey Britain Garden. It’s a generous piece of furniture that will seat a family of five quite comfortably, and is large enough to bed down on should you ever lock yourself out of your house. The use of dowel in the assembly means there are no unsightly screws to spoil its smooth lines, and the wide, flat armrests will accommodate a whole flotilla of drinks.

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3. Kookaburra Shade Sail: From £29.99, Amazon

The aptly named Gary Breeze scooped gold with his Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden – a naturalistic, artisan garden incorporating an old sail to provide shade and structure. For a clean, modern take on this theme, hoist up one of Kookaburra’s tight weave sails. It’ll provide decent UV protection from the sun (if it appears) and offers up shelter should the heavens open (more likely). Each sail comes with three ropes, but you’ll need to provide the support from which to hang it. These come in various sizes.

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4. Rowena Rocking Sunbed: Bed £325, Mattress, £105, Pepe Garden

For poolside snoozing or rocking out on the decking, treat yourself to one of these ergonomic sunbeds. The contoured backrest hugs the spine and elevates the knees to create a perfect reclining position from which to survey your garden (or glass of G&T). The Rowena is supplied with wedges, so when you tire of rocking (is that even possible?) you can steady the ship and have a nice slurp of drink without spilling it down your top.

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5. NordEco NorDeck Chair: £159.99, Crocus

Mimic the strong, angular lines of the larch canopy in Charlotte Harris’ Royal Bank of Canada Garden by inviting this skeletal Scandinavian wood chair onto your patio. Made from stained grey pine and resembling the unfinished hull of a Viking longship, this stylish chair by the UK company using Nordic materials can be set for upright sitting or reclined slouching. It makes a comfy resting place for garden-weary bones and the design also comes in oak, larch, birch and alder. This chair will bleach naturally when left exposed to the elements, so row it into a shed or garage during bouts of wet weather if you wish to retain the wooden finish. 

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6. Tractor Seat Stool: £99.99, Crocus

Metallic industrial structures abounded in this year’s Chelsea show gardens. Iron arches were used to frame Lee Bestall’s interpretation of Covent Garden, while the Seedlip Garden incorporated a snaking, copper piping sculpture to hammer home the distillation theme. To add an agricultural twist to your own backyard, slide your dungaree-clad buttocks into this tractor seat stool. You can adjust the stool height by rotating the seat, and there’s a footrest rim to help take the weight off your wellies. We think it will look great on a patio, or you could park it inside and use it as a quirky cocktail chair. Available in black or silver metal – one size fits all.

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7. Charles Bentley Bistro Set: £69.99, BuyDirect4U

Every garden needs a bistro-style table and chairs and here’s a nicely priced one from Bentley. It’s a well-constructed, sure-footed set that will perch proudly on a patio, decking or balcony garden. It’s relatively maintenance free – just give it a cursory wipe down to remove any spilled bolognese – and comes in a variety of colours, from soft hued lilac to lemon yellow. We’d plump for the bright orange to reflect this year’s gardening vogue for bold, vivid colours, as seen in Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins’ Chengdu Silk Road Garden.

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8. Concrete Bench Planter: £329.65, Woodpecker Interiors

Designer Darren Hawkes crushed, shaped and sculpted concrete to heroic effect in his gold-medal winning The Linklaters Garden for Maggie’s. Introduce a utilitarian aesthetic to your own outdoor space with this sleek concrete bench. The side attached planter is a neat touch – fill it with fragrant herbs and blooms, or get on board with the tactile planting trend and shove in some soft grasses that you can sit and stroke. This one is 150cm long and 40cm deep.

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9. Roundwood of Mayfield Solid Oak Cube: £351.80, Roundwood of Mayfield

Regimented blocks of limestone peppered James Basson’s showstopping M&G Garden, and here’s a wooden take on this geometric theme. There are no considerations for ergonomic comfort with these heavy slabs of oak but they make quirky individual seating for the garden and will gradually weather and split over time for that coveted earthy look. 60cm x 60cm.

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10. Out There Interiors Round Distressed Garden Table: £190, Out There Interiors

“Overgrown”, “decrepit” and “derelict” are not the usual themes associated with a gold-medal winning garden, but Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith’s World Horse Welfare Garden was a masterclass in naturalistic planting. Get on board with the rural vibe with this ready-relicked iron table. It looks like a dream find from the local antiques market and will look equally at home nestled amongst the rambling floral borders of a cottage garden, or sitting on a balcony hosting cups of tea.

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The Verdict

If you’ve got a tree big enough to swing from, snap up a hammock chair. For anyone with the space (and budget), you’ll be wanting to relax among the contoured folds of the rocking Rowena sunbed.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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