Made in Chelsea
A catwalk of colour and creativity, the brightest new ideas, the latest trends and the pinnacle of garden design make this show the one the world wants to see
A catwalk of colour and creativity, the brightest new ideas, the latest trends and the pinnacle of garden design make the Chelsea Flower Show the one the world wants to see. Make sure you're there to enjoy gardening at its most gorgeous and glamorous.
Established in 1913, on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London,
the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become one of the most celebrated annual events in the world
and the world’s greatest showcase for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe.
Since its beginning, the show has gone from strength to strength. It has grown from 244 exhibitors in 1913 to over 500 today, including gardens, nurseries, floristry, educational displays and trade stands. Today the show attracts 165,000 visitors.
Over almost a century, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has witnessed numerous changes in horticultural fashion. Show gardens, over the years, have mirrored the changing enthusiasms of garden designers - from the Japanese and topiary gardens of the early days (Japanese dwarf trees, now known as bonsai, were seen at the first Show in 1913), through the rock garden craze during the war years, the paved back yards and cottage gardens of the 1980s, to the contemporary sculptural gardens of the present day.
At the heart of RHS Chelsea is the exhibition of plants staged in the Great Pavilion by nurserymen and women, professionals and amateurs - although the number of amateurs represented today is proportionately much smaller than in the early years. Scientific exhibits, model glasshouses and displays of tools and equipment have remained constant features from the outset.
Today, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is still viewed as the most important event in the horticultural calendar and is as popular as ever. The new trends constantly appearing at the Show illustrate the changing face of garden design and mark this country’s ever-changing horticultural history.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the ways that the RHS funds its charitable activities, which range from transforming communities to helping children to benefit from growing plants and delivering scientific research that helps thousands of gardeners across the UK every day.
Did you know?
Here are some things you might not know about the world’s most famous flower show:
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society which was founded in 1804.
The Show has been held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1913.
Japanese dwarf trees, now known as bonsai, were first seen at the first Show in 1913.
In 1927 there was a campaign to get the RHS to ban foreign exhibits from RHS Chelsea to reduce competition with British firms. The RHS refused saying, ‘horticulture knows nothing of nationality.’
The Great Pavilion at RHS Chelsea Flower Show is large enough to park 500 London buses.
BBC television coverage of RHS Chelsea began in 1958. Today the BBC screens 11 hours dedicated to the Show.
A cap of 157,000 was placed on the number of visitors to the showground in 1988.
Every year, the RHS Plant committees vote on RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year. The competition is open to any plant on display at the show which has never been exhibited at a show for gardeners before.
In 2002, Prince Charles designed a garden at the Show with Jinny Blom, named The Healing Garden, the aim of which to was to produce a garden comprised entirely of healing plants and natural remedies.
In 2009 James May, the Top Gear presenter, created a Plasticine Show Garden. He was presented with a special Plasticine Gold Medal.
In 2009 HM the Queen presented her son, Prince Charles with the Victoria Medal of Honour at the Show.
The biggest RHS Chelsea Show Garden (so far) was the Eden Project Garden in 2010 which covered 590 square metres.
In 2013, the RHS lifted the ban on gnomes at the Show to mark the centenary celebrations. Celebrities were invited to paint and decorate the gnomes to feature at the event, before being auctioned off online to raise money for RHS Campaign for School Gardening.
In 2014 visitors to the show drank 1,150 glasses of champagne, 6,400 glasses of Pimms and 10,560 hot drinks, and ate over 10,000 portions of fish and chips.
The tallest ever exhibit at RHS Chelsea was ‘The Westland Magical Garden’ in 2012. It was designed by Diarmuid Gavin and featured an 80ft high pyramid.
Over the century, there have been well over 5,000 exhibitors, ranging from nurseries to gardening product companies to amateur gardeners.
All the Show Gardens are built from scratch in just 19 days and will be dismantled in only 5 days.
Over the past 100 years there have been over 250 exhibitors from other countries. Holland has sent the highest number of exhibitors.
Hilliers Nurseries has won an RHS Gold Medal every year since RHS Chelsea resumed after the Second World War.
Displays at RHS Chelsea have been influential in bringing back into fashion otherwise forgotten plants, like old roses and auriculas.
RHS Chelsea is the flower show most associated with the Royal family, who attend the opening day every year.It takes 800 people 33 days to build the show from bare grass to the finished article.
165,000 visitors visit the Show every year.
In 2013, Prince Harry attended the Show after Jinny Blom designed a Show Garden in aid of his charity, Sentebale.
The Queen is the patron of the Royal Horticultural Society and during her reign has attended all but 12 Shows.
Top Image - © Richard Cayeux
Middle Image - © J Van Zoest
Bottom Image - © Richard Cayeux