The excitement of the Chelsea Flower Show is apparent far before you arrive at the event. Whilst the garden designers and landscaping teams are making the finishing touches after months of planning and weeks of intense construction, you can watch the highlights on the BBC and wander past the floral decorations that pop up all over Chelsea to celebrate the event.
On Press Day the talented garden designers stand by their creations, exhausted from the weeks, or even months, of build up. Today is the day they share their designs for the first time and wait expectantly for the RHS judges to decide who will open their envelope on Tuesday evening to discover a gold, silver of bronze award. Everyone involved must take home the incredible satisifaction of having realised the garden they dreamt of when they submitted their application a year before.
Chelsea is the showpiece of the Royal Horticultural Society, and a whole industry of garden designers, landscapers and horticulturalists. But its reach goes well beyond this, and it’s no longer all about flowers, but what plants and gardens can represent and the benefits for individuals, society and the environment. Designers strive to convey these messges, as well as displaying the best the industry has to offer.
A visit to RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a multi-sensory feast; from the sweet scent of the indredible roses in the pavilion, to the sometimes breathtaking, but more often calming, sound of running water in the Show and Sanctuary gardens. This years’ incredible feats of landscaping include the 15 tonnes of ice in The Plantman’s Ice Garden, set to melt slowly over the course of the show to highlight the impportance of the role of ice in our planets changing climate. A smaller monolithic ice cube containing seeds and fragments of plants highlights the hope that botanical bounty found frozen within ice could benefit the planet and humankind.
A highlight for children visiting RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be The New Blue Peter Garden Discover Soil Show Garden. The Garden celebrates the BBC’s centenary year, and is designed to encourage us to respect the soil beneath our feet. Children can listen to the activity within soil through headphones and walk through an underground chamber to witness what is happening beneath their feet. This garden will be installed in RHS Bridgewater at the end of the show, where everyone can visit.
Families should also visit The Alder Hey Urban Foraging Station Show Garden, where I met a lovely family whose daughter had been cared for by the hospital since birth. The garden, which features a large forgaing picnic blanket, will move back to the hospital’s new children’s mental health unit when the Flower Show closes. The garden is designed to encourage enagement with nature through foraging, sharing healthy food, play and relaxation together.
The Place2be Securing Tomorrow Santuary Garden was designed in consultation with children in west London to whose school it will be relocated at the end of the show. Some of the children visited the garden on Press Day where they met Kate Silverton, the Patron of Place2be children’s mental health charity. The Hands Off the Mangrove Show Garden, which will relocate to North Kensington after the show, also stood out with it messages of diverstiy, community and support. Inside the Pavillion, were a number of All ABout Plants Gardens designed to illustrate the positive power of plants on humnas and the planet, including The Mothers for Mothers Garden tributed to motherhood and all its challenges.
For those that day dream of travel there are many gardens and exhibitors that encapsulate culture and nature from around the world; from a a tranquil Swiss sanctuary, a Japanese celebration of the Circle of Life, to the bright plants of Barbados in the middle of the Great Pavilion. The Boodles Travel Sanctuary Garden celebrates native planting from all corners of the world, including India, East Asia and China.
As is tradition, RHS Members can book tickets from Tuesday 24th, but members of the public have to wait until the Thursday. Press, invited dignitaries and VIPs get to have a sneak preview of what is in store on the Monday, followed by an extra special visit from Her Majesty the Queen in the afternoon. The coverage on the BBC is a delight to watch and may also be enjoyable for children.
Children over 5 are welcome at the show, but need to have a full priced ticket. Whilst older children and budding young horticulturists will love to soak up the atmosphere at Chelsea, RHS Hampton Palace Show in July may be a more enjoyable option with small children as there is much more for them to see and do, and space to run around and wheel buggies and prams.