Blooming Great: How Chelsea Flower Show Takes Over London This September
For the first time in its 108-year history, Chelsea Flower Show will be held in September – thanks, Covid. While it may be a later date in the calendar, the iconic flower show will still fill London up with floral beauty and nature-inspired creativity. Read on for show highlights and our pick of flower show-related events…
Photo: Royal Horticultural Society
Chelsea Flower Show Highlights, Chelsea
The date change has seen many designers adapt their show gardens to the change of seasons as well as consider Britain’s collective reaction to emergence of Covid-19.
1 Balcony and Container Gardens
Sponsored by M&G, these gardens provide inspiration and ideas for small space gardening, which, thanks to the pandemic, is something many of us Londoners now know a bit about.
The ‘Green Sky Pocket Garden’ by James Smith is an oasis away from busy city life. Martha Krempel’s ‘Arcadia’ garden features subtropical planting and an idyllic painted backdrop and Michael Coley’s ‘Sky Sanctuary’ uses a colour scheme of soft pastels and greens.
There’s also the ‘Balcony of Blooms’ designed by Alexandra Noble who is known for using planting schemes to support biodiversity.
The garden will feature blooms for pollinators and culinary herbs and aims to show how small spaces can be productive, practical and enchanting.
2 RHS COP26 Garden
Taking a key message from COP26, the RHS COP26 Garden, which has been designed by Balston Agius, led by Marie-Louise Agius, will demonstrate how our gardens, plants and public green spaces can play an integral part in protecting biodiversity, our planet and people and ensure a greener, more resilient future for us all.
Whilst it will be a clear exposition of the climate change crisis, the Garden will also show achievable things that people can do at home and within their communities that don’t cost too much.
Plants sustaining pollinators and insects can be grown from seed. So can climbers like beans providing summer food and a small degree of cooling.
This will be a call for action by the RHS, for people to make small changes to their own garden, which collectively will make a big difference.
3 The Florence Nightingale Garden – A Celebration of Modern Day Nursing
Designed by Robert Myers, this garden shines a light on the critical role nurses play in modern-day healthcare whilst celebrating the remarkable legacy of Florence Nightingale and the importance of gardens for wellbeing and recovery.
For the September show, Robert has adjusted the planting pallet so rather than creating a shady garden with woodland plants, the garden will be a bright and vibrant space with colourful late summer perennials.
4 Travel-inspired gardens
In a year where many of us haven’t left this drizzly island, there are a handful of gardens that take inspiration from foreign landscapes will transport visitors to far away destinations. Designer Lilly Gomm celebrates the beauty of Switzerland’s natural landscape with ‘Swiss Sanctuary Garden’.
Despite being based in Thailand, first time RHS Chelsea designers Tawatchai Sakdikul and Ploytabtim Suksang are determined not to let potential travel restrictions prevent ‘The Calm of Bangkok Garden’ being part of this year’s show.
There’s also gardens based on the Ural Mountains in Russia, as well as Nordic seaside life and a Himalayan inspired garden as well.
September 21-26; gates open at 8am and closing times vary; tickets start from £66.75/£83.75 for member/public; Royal Hospital, Chelsea, SW3 4SL; rhs.org.uk
Ways to keep the Chelsea Garden Party going around London
Want more flowers and greenery? Of course you do, and these exhibitions, events and afternoon teas will ensure you get your fill…
1 Chelsea in Bloom, Chelsea
London’s largest free flower festival and competition is back. Having skipped a year due to the pandemic, this year’s bouquets and floral arrangements are designed around the theme Extraordinary Voyages and Around the world in 80 days, celebrating the golden age of travel, optimism and adventure. In its 15th year, the event is produced in association with the Royal Horticultural Society and expands the Chelsea Flower Show out into the neighbourhood, flooding Chelsea’s streets with wanderlust-inspiring installations, colour, beauty and joyful escapism.
September 20-25; around Sloane Street, Pavilion Road, Duke of York Square, King’s Road; a map will be available here; chelseainbloom.co.uk