England’s largest horticultural extravaganza, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, previously known as the Great Spring Show, is one of the world’s most famous flower shows, drawing in gardening enthusiasts from all over the globe. The annual festival is organized by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and held each May in the grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital, where a series of spectacular gardens and floral exhibits are displayed to dramatic effect.
The gardens, including a number of show gardens created by leading artists and garden designers, span over 11 acres with a grand Floral Marquee at its center and are judged for a series of awards throughout the event. Celebrated for their originality, the elaborate gardens are designed to dazzle, with artistic themes, enormous floral installations, ornate sculptures and inspired topiary. Over the years the show stopping creations, often described as ‘Paris fashion week for gardeners’, have included ‘Paradise in Plasticine’ by John May, a garden made entirely of plasticine; Diarmuid Gavin’s ‘Irish Sky Garden’, a floating garden dramatically suspended in the air; and a buzzing honeybee garden by John Chambers.
The Chelsea Flower Show first started in 1913 and has become an important date on the Royal calendar, with a number of Royal family members putting in an appearance and the Queen, the Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society, often opening the show. Each year sees the latest gardening technologies and innovations brought to the worldwide audience, with greenhouse displays of exotic crops, Artisan gardens designed using all natural, eco-friendly materials and creative Urban gardens being some of the most popular exhibits.
The show runs for five days, with the first days reserved for RHS members, and culminates in a massive sale of floral arrangements on the final afternoon. Tickets are available by advance booking only so book ahead to join the 157,000 attendees, or tune in to the BBC’s live television coverage of the iconic show.