The blooming marvellous Chelsea Flower Show is a true horticultural highlight
here’s nothing more British than Chelsea Flower Show, with cutting-edge garden design and plants from all over the world, the show offers a glamorous, unique and memorable experience.
Whether your green fingers can make anything flourish or you only have to look at a plant to see it off, this event from 21st to 25th May, has so many aspects to enjoy and marvel at.
Internationally renowned designers and world-class exhibits vying to win RHS Gold medals and the coveted Best Show Garden will greet you round every corner with a few surprises too.
One garden that is sure to attract a great deal of attention this year is the RHS Back to Nature garden designed by The Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White.
With the emphasis firmly on the family and inspired by childhood memories, the woodland garden offers a place to play, learn and discover and as part of the RHS’s partnership with NHS England is promoting the physical and emotional benefits of gardening and being outdoors. After the show, much of the planting and landscaping will be given to an NHS mental health trust.
Visitors to this garden – and there are sure to be many – can marvel at the centrepiece tree house with its swing hanging form the branches; a waterfall and stream to paddle in and a hollow log to learn balancing and climbing.
The garden is designed to be relaxing and calming as well as boasting plants for craft activities, food for wildlife and nectar for pollination.
Among the highlights (although I’m not sure how you pick) are a garden inspired by a rock formation on an Australian beach for show sponsor M&G Investments and Welcome to Yorkshire which consists of a towpath running alongside a canal lock.
Artisan Gardens are making a welcome return with smaller spaces offering thought-provoking designs that tell a story. Here you can wander around gardens raising awareness for donkeys to mark the 50th anniversary of The Donkey Sanctuary; The High Maintenance Garden for Motor Neurone Disease Association which reflects the limitations of some with the disease and the forgotten quarry garden among others.
Don’t let limited space put you off creating a garden you can be proud of, the Space to Grow gardens are a feature of Chelsea for the second year with the Kampo no Niha garden. Kampo is a system a Japanese herbal medicine with plants featured for their health benefits while The Facebook Garden takes you “Beyond the Screen”.
The Duchess of Cambridge at the announcement of the garden design in January Credit: RHS / Suzanne Plunkett
Garden designer Chris Beardshaw, winner of Best Show Garden 2018 for the Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC, Credit: RHS / Luke McGregor
The Chelsea Flower Show is also heralding the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and gardening for people and the environment.
Designers have explored the positive powers of plants and looked at factors which affect mental and physical health, such as Kate Gould’s garden supported by Greenfingers Charity which has created an uplifting space for children and the Savills and David Harber Garden which is all about how good it can feel getting away from the hustle and bustle using plants, trees and grasses to show a sustainable woodland clearing in a city garden.
The centrepiece of the show is the Great Pavilion which houses specialist growers from across the UK and those who have travelled from overseas to attend.
More than 80 exhibitors will be featured with a first for the Great Pavilion this year in the shape of a fully-interactive and walk-through garden, created by Tom Dixon and sponsored by IKEA, showcasing sustainable, affordable and forward-thinking solutions to growing food at home and in the community.
Many of the exhibitors are celebrating significant anniversaries this year at Chelsea including the multi-award winning David Austin Roses which marks its 50th anniversary at the show; the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies celebrating 60 years and the leading orchid cultivator McBean’s Nursery, with more than 70 Gold awards to its name, which is celebrating its 140th year.
After you’ve walked round and feasted on all that – and that’s only a small fraction of what’s on offer – you’ll be in need of some sustenance and there’s no shortage of options there either, not least the Jardin Blanc, an innovative dining experience from award-winning Oxfordshire chef Raymond Blanc.
To complete your quintessentially British experience visit The Drawing Room courtesy of The Dorchester and enjoy a floral-inspired tea with pastries and warm scones alongside a glass of Champagne or pop into Wedgewood’s tea conservatory and taste the exotic Wonderlust Collection.
Night owls can also hang back after the crowds have dispersed and enjoy Chelsea Late with botanical-inspired cocktails and cool jazz to round off what will have been a sublime experience.