A Potted History of the Chelsea Flower Show
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show isn't the largest garden show in the country - that accolade goes to Hampton Court - but it is the most prestigious. It started in 1862, in the grounds of the now closed RHS garden at Kensington, but it wasn't until 1913 that it appeared in the grounds of Chelsea Hospital - where it's been ever since (barring a few breaks for two World Wars).
In 2000, the Great Pavillion replaced the largest tent in the world. The tent appeared in the Guinness Book of Records measuring in at a whopping 3.5 acres. In some ways, the Great Pavillion represents the beginnings of the Show more than the show gardens now do, housing over 90 exhibitors of plants, showcasing new varieties year after year.
But, with today's visual appetite, it's the show gardens that grab the headlines and drive gardening fashion. These gardens have taken years to put together - and often cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. At the end of the day, though, for me it's the plants, the colours, the soul of those gardens that counts, not the massive companies who pay for them to advertise themselves. And the more down to earth, the better. I'm tipping the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden as the People's Choice this year. It's gloriously old-fashioned, inviting and romantic, but mostly, it's accessible. We can see that planting, that mood in our own small garden.
Talking of small gardens, in last night's BBC coverage, Joe Swift said that the average UK garden is 190 square metres. I mean, really? They've obviously looked at too many millionaire's gardens. That's a load of old nonsense. I'm going to go and sit in my 4 metre square garden and think about that.
Garden Gnomes are banned at Chelsea Flower Show!
Best Show Garden is the Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC designed by presenter, Chris Beardshaw
Two of my favourites, the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden designed by Mark Gregory (I’m hotly tipping this for the people’s vote tomorrow)
And the M&G Garden designed by Sarah Price. What a wonderful use of colour
Pictures courtesy of the RHS