Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chelsea at 100

This year sees the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which, although not the biggest, is certainly one of the most famous gardening shows in the world. The show has been held almost every year since 1913, with only the two world wars causing a break. At
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
Exhibitor: B&Q Sentebale 
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
Exhibitor: The Food and Environment Agency
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
Exhibitor: Arthritis Research
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
Exhibitor: Royal Bank of Canada
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
Exhibitor: Delancey 
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 
Exhibitor: Brewin Dolphin 
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
Exhibitor: The Daily Telegraph
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.

Exhibitor: Stoke-on-Trent Garden Partnership
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 
Exhibitor: Fleming's Nurseries 
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
Exhibitor: SeeAbility and Coutts
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
Exhibitor: Homebase 
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
Exhibitor: M&G Investments
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.  

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


  1. Wonderful preview of the show. Will be interesting to see the photos to see if my favorite remains from the drawings and if some will look better than the drawings indicate.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    1. Do let us know wht you think of the finished gardens :)

  2. How wonderful that you live so close to this grand show! I'm looking forward to your posts about this most famous of garden shows!

    1. We are fortunate that its not a long way away. We a looking forward to it and of course sharing the experience with you all.

  3. so lucky. sadly can't make it this year. wonderful to get to go prior to opening. i always find the member's day the most crowded! i will be following your blog with interest as you do seem to get to the nitty gritty! x

    1. It's a shame you can't make it. We are really looking forward to it.

  4. Hope to bump into you on Monday!

    1. That would be great, hopefully see you there!

  5. Look forward to tagging along with you guys! (virtually)

    1. I hope you enjoy the virtual tour :) hopefully the weather will behave!

  6. You've whet my appetite for coming posts. I wonder how the actual gardens will compare to the sketches. This should be fun!

    1. It'll be interesting to see on the day how the real things will compare to their sketches :)

  7. Enjoy the show - I suspect I will get more from the various blog posts about it than I will from the TV coverage, which tends to the trivial and fluffy, but there is also a wealth of other online material to get inspiration from. Enjoy the gnomes ;-)

    1. Will do Janet! Not sure about the gnomes though...

  8. What a grand show this is. You have written a very information and complete preview post!

  9. So excited, I can't wait for next week. Wheeeeee!

  10. I can't wait to be there and I'm looking forward to hearing your views. Have fun!

    1. And have fun too :) hopefully the weather will cooperate!

  11. Great overview of the show guys! I shall be there on the Monday judging - do say 'Hi' if you see me!

  12. I have to agree with Ian - a great overview of the show. I look forward to following your blog and do say hello to Ian if you see him - he would love to say hi.

  13. I went to Chelsea with my mother a few times. She was determined to meet Alan Titmarsh, but we couldn't find him. Thanks for the preview - I'm going to follow your blog instead of the BBC this year.

  14. Looks like there will be some glorious gardens! I look forward to reading your post about the show.

  15. That's a very big formal activity, lots of designs to be amazed of. I am sure you will have some wonderful buys again when you go home.

  16. Hope that you have a great day guys. It will be armchair viewing for me this year but will also be checking in here for your report.


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