Garden festival planner: Chelsea Flower show
Chelsea is the prize bloom of the world’s garden shows, and the reputation is well-deserved. Here Robin Powell shares her observations on what has been another breath-taking Chelsea Flower Show.
Once a year the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, usually open only to the 300 British Army veterans resident at the Hospital, becomes the site of the world’s biggest and best garden celebration. There are so many thrills, it’s hard to choose a highlight. The extraordinary landscaping, horticultural and design skills behind the Main Avenue show gardens that must be constructed from scratch in just 10 days and deconstructed in three? The displays in the Main Pavilion, where nursery people show their best blooms in exhibits of dazzling skill? The smaller designer gardens that offer more ideas on a smaller budget than those in Main Avenue? Or the new products – desirable new plants, original sculptures and artworks, furniture, tools, gardening clobber, books…? Fortunately there are also lots of places to sit and take it all in over a cup of tea, or more traditionally a jug of Pimm’s!
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
London, 21-25 May 2019
Gardens to visit
Princess Diana’s favourite garden when she lived at Kensington Palace is tucked behind hedges in Kensington Gardens. Views of the garden are framed by windows cut out of a lime tree walk, with the planting around a central pond inspired by Diana’s elegance and grace. Entry is free, but for a special treat book afternoon tea in the Orangery, which overlooks the garden.
Sunken garden. Photo – Robin Powell
The Temperate House re-opened in May 2018 after a [pound sign] 41 million renovation, and its soaring steel and glass frame is just one more reason to visit the world’s most important botanic garden. Plan to spend the day, making time for the great botanical art in the Shirley Sherwood and Marianne North galleries.
Kew gardens Temperate House. Photo – Robin Powell
Chelsea Physic Garden
Established in 1673 as a garden for apothecaries to grow medicinal plants, the Physic Garden is a place of fascinating scientific history and calm beauty on the banks of the Thames. An audio guide is free with entry, and the cafe is a great spot for coffee and cake or a light lunch.
Chelsea Physic Garden. Photo – Robin Powell
Tickets to Chelsea Flower Show range from $75- $130 and sell out early. Go to www.rhs.org.uk
Come with us
Libby Cameron will lead our tour to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next year on Members Day for a less crowded experience. Check out the itinerary here