one time the show was the biggest in the UK, although that honour now goes to Hampton Court which will be in July. We will be going along this year and will provide our view on the show, and the gardens here on the blog.
Like many similar shows there are essentially three key elements; the show gardens (of differing size, scale, and themes), floral marquee, and then stands and stalls of garden accessories.
Ahead of the show here is our handy guide to the Chelsea Flower Show 2013.
This year the show gardens are divided into four categories: the main Show Gardens, the Artisan Gardens, Fresh Gardens and Generation Gardens.
Designs for the main show gardens have been released in advance, we will aim to take photos from similar angles to the illustrations (where possible) to compare. Here are some of them:
|B&Q Sentebale 'Forget Me Not' Garden|
Designer: Jinny Blom
Prince Harry is exhibiting this year in association with B&Q with a garden reflecting the loss of his mother. The Prince's Charity is dedicated to helping vulnerable children in Lesotho, Africa, many of whom have been orphaned as a result of the loss of parents to HIV/AIDS. His charity was launched in 2006 in memory of his Princess Diana, after Harry had spent part of his gap year working at an orphanage in the Lesotho.
|The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread|
Designer: Jo Thompson
A sunken garden that will feature dead trees as part of the design, as well as a single sapling in the middle of an island within a pool as its water feature. This garden symbolizes the threat of invasive species, pests, and diseases towards British trees and other plants
|The Arthritis Research UK Garden|
Designer: Chris Beardshaw
Chris Beardshaw returns to Chelsea with The Arthritis Research UK Garden, his garden last year (Furzey Gardens) won gold, so no doubt he will be hoping for good things in 2013. Furzey was one of our favourites last year, the 2013 garden has a very different style so it will be interesting to see how it compares.
|Chris Beardshaw's Furzey Gardens won gold for this garden in 2012|
|RBC Blue Water Roof Garden|
Designer: Professor Nigel Dunnett and the Landscape Agency
The Royal Bank of Canada, with its Blue Water Project that aims to help protect fresh water will feature an urban rooftop garden that supports biodiversity and protects natural resources.
|East Village Garden|
Designer: Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius
Following on from the Olympics last year the former athletes village has been transformed into a new residential area, known as Olympic East Village. This garden reflects on that transformation and will be using a selection of herbs and other plants not usually displayed at Chelsea.
|The Brewin Dolphin Garden|
Designer: Robert Myers
This years Brewin Dolphin garden makes heavy use of hard landscaping with stone, timber and water. The designers intend for this garden to be a calm private space to relax in, using a number of traditional British plants.
|The Daily Telegraph Garden|
Designer: Christopher Bradley-Hole
East meets west as the English landscape and the Japanese approach to gardens and modern abstract art are the influences in the design of this garden.
Designer: The Landscape Team, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
A garden design that will give a glimpse of Stoke-on-Trent's journey from an industrial power to a present day contemporary city, as well as its ties with the village of Lidice in the Czech Republic. Take note of the seating area shaped like one of the iconic pottery buildings.
|Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Flemings|
Designer: Phillip Johnson
Fleming’s Nurseries have now exhibited eight Australian Show Gardens at Chelsea. For this years show, the garden is a showcase of Australia’s enviable natural beauty and Mother Nature’s timeless design. Designed by Phillip Johnson, this garden reminds us that nature is the perfect reference for sustainable design, imperative in the twenty first century.
|Stockton Drilling as Nature Intended Garden|
Exhibitor: Stockton Drilling Ltd
Designer: Jamie Dunstan
A garden promoting the use of natural materials and traditional craft, and featuring plants such as taxus and winter barley.
|The SeeAbility Garden|
Designer: Jamie Dunstan
A garden that will feature bright and clearly contrasting plants that can be distinguished easily by partially sighted people. It aims to show how the world can still be enjoyed by people with limited vision.
|The Homebase Garden|
Designer: Adam Frost
After the very modern looking garden last year from Joe Swift, Homebase have opted for a more traditional looking garden this year, designed to be a modern family garden.
|M&G Centenary Garden|
Designer: Roger Platts
A garden designed to mark the Chelsea Flower Show's centenary anniversary which will evoke both current trends as well as nostalgia for Chelsea gardens of the past.
When it comes to the exhibitors in the great marquee there are a wide range of nurseries attending again this year. Ranging from the exotic, the unusual, to the bright and blousy. The numbers have increased over the years but three who were there back in 1913 will be there again this year. These are McBean's Orchids, Kelways and Blackmore & Langdon.
McBean's have an old stalwart to assist them, Cymbidium lowianum var. magnificum that is 113 years old and may well have been on that first stand one hundred years ago. McBean's are intending to replicate their display from 1913 with a row of palm trees acting as a backdrop to their orchid display.
Kelways is another well known name in the nursery trade, with the nursery being around since at least 1851, and are well known for a number of plants including irises, roses, and gladioli,
Blackmore & Langdon is still owned by the original Langdon family,specialise in delphiniums and begonias. Growing hundreds each year for Chelsea before selecting the plants that are good enough for the display.
Personal highlights for us will be seeing the Crug Farm and Burncoose displays. As many of our readers will know Crug specialise in the unusual, in particular Scheffleras and other gems.
|Crug display at this years London Plant and Design show.|
By far the easiest way to get to Chelsea for most people will be by using public transport, and the nearest Tube station is at Sloane Square. Its a fairly short walk of about 10 minutes, when we went last year it was easy enough to find the entrance as so many other people from the Tube were also heading to the show. There is also a shuttle bus service available if you prefer.
If you are coming from further afield then it may well be worth staying over, especially if you have an early morning ticket and want to take full advantage of the day staying until the close at 8pm. London is well catered for hotels with accommodation available in pretty much every price range. With the convenience of the underground you would not need to stay in the immediate vicinity of the Royal Hospital. If you are visiting for a couple of days then taking in some of the other sites of London would make sense. Whether that's shopping in the West End, or a trip to Kew Gardens, there is plenty more to experience. Holiday Inn has hotels based in the following areas to allow further exploration; Kensington, Bloomsbury, Regents Park, Mayfair and Brent Cross.
You are allowed to take refreshments in with you, and there is also a wide range of catering available, from burgers to fine dining.When we went last year we took drinks with us and also some snacks and then had lunch in one of the food courts provided on site.
If you are going along have a great time but if not then stay tuned into our blog for our coverage. We are attending on Monday prior to the show opening to the public on Tuesday, so keep an eye on the blog for some advanced photos from our visit!
For our coverage from last year see:
A Day at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012Chelsea 2012: Show GardensChelsea 2012: Plants in a WarzoneChelsea 2012: Exotic Australian Garden
Mark and Gaz