The countdown to RHS Chelsea Flower Show begins

By Tamsin Westhorpe

Tamsin Westhorpe looks at what this year’s glittering gardening event has in store

Drum roll please. The world’s greatest flower show is returning to its traditional May date, and it is set to be an event to remember.

Last year the event was held in September due to the pandemic. From 24-28th May those lucky enough to have bought a ticket will be enjoying the designer gardens, breathtaking nursery displays and perusing the shopping opportunities. Many of us will also be experiencing the event from our homes thanks to the extensive TV coverage.

There is an overriding theme amongst the 30 plus gardens that are being created for the event. The important and rightly topical issues of sustainability and the natural environment will shine through.

Amongst the accomplished show garden designers such as Chris Beardshaw and Sarah Eberle are some new names and first timers to the event.

For example, Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt are creating a garden called A Rewilding Britain Landscape that represents a landscape in Southwest England that will focus on the reintroduction of the beaver.

Other first timers are Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Danny Clarke who have a strong message to share through their show garden, Hands Off Mangrove by Grow2Know. They hope to engage visitors with the issues of deforestation and social injustice.

It really is worth taking time to study the stories and messages behind the gardens as are they are often very powerful and add to the overall impact of an exhibit.

Tiny treats

Chelsea isn’t all about large gardens and high budgets. Visitors will be wowed by the Balcony and Container Garden categories.

Another new exhibitor is Jason Williams who will be creating a balcony garden that will prove how a tranquil setting can be created in a small space. His garden will focus on increasing the biodiversity of an urban setting and creating a place that is good for our mental health.

Image © Jason Williams: The Cirrus Garden.

Jason says of his The Cirrus Garden “My foray into gardening started during lockdown in May 2020. It started with a marigold and now I am bringing marigolds to RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 on my very own exhibit. I still can’t believe it. You really can make a garden anywhere!”

A garden that appeals to me in the Container Garden category is The Enchanted Rain Garden by designer Bea Tann. It is a garden designed to cope with wet weather and will demonstrate how foliage plants can offer just as much impact as flowering plants.

Power of plants

One the first places I head to at the show is the Great Pavilion. It is here that you will witness the sheer perfection of the nursery displays and get to talk to the expert growers. You won’t be able to leave the Pavilion without having fallen in love with a plant or two.

Image: Flower hat from a previous RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Order your tulips for 2023 through the powerful display by Bloms Bulbs, admire the ornamental grasses on show from Ashcroft Perennials and eye up the bearded iris curtesy of British Iris Society who are celebrating their 100th year.

Inside the Pavilion there is a new category: All about Plants. This will champion the power that plants have on our mental health.

Even if you don’t have a garden there is something for you. The House Plant Studios return for a second year after being met with such positivity in 2021.

Whether you are keen to find out the latest in scientific innovations in The Discovery Zone, look at the most cutting-edge design or simply want to smell the roses there is something for everyone at RHS Chelsea. Let the show begin. For more information (and tickets) visit www.rhs.org.uk

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Tamsin Westhorpe

With over 25 years’ experience in the horticultural industry, Tamsin has plenty of practical, hands on advice to share. Her career has seen her edit The English Garden magazine for six years, write scripts for TV gardening, lecture at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset and care for parks and gardens. She is now a freelance writer and curator and gardener of Stockton Bury Gardens, Herefordshire (listed by The Times in the top 20 gardens to visit July 2017). Tamsin is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Judge, co-Chair of The Garden Media Guild and a prolific speaker at many high profile events. She has recently written her first book ‘Diary of a Modern Country Gardener’ published by Orphans Publishing and is the voice of the popular Candide Gardening podcast ‘Fresh from the pod’.

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