The great and the good of gardening return to Chelsea for the world’s best flower show this month (May). We’ve unearthed this year’s highlights…
Wellbeing is a buzz word of the moment, and the theme of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 (24–28 May) is to champion the positive impact gardening can have on health and happiness.
The theme will be reflected in several gardens this year, including the official RHS garden, which will be designed by Ann-Marie Powell as part of the RHS’ Greening Grey Britain initiative. ‘Gardens and gardening do more good to heart and soul than they are ever given credit for,’ says Ann-Marie. ‘It’s important that my interpretation on a front garden theme is full of take-home ideas for both individuals and communities… Too many people are paving over their front gardens but anybody can have a beautiful front garden.’
Elsewhere, a unique Show Garden, designed by award-winning gardener Chris Beardshaw and sponsored by Morgan Stanley, will be relocated after the show to Great Ormond Street Hospital to be a therapeutic space for parents, while The Garden Bed Show Garden, designed by master florist Alison Doxey and landscape architect Stephen Welch, is a green space for hospice patients. Meanwhile, an interactive feature by Coventry University in the Discovery Zone will reveal how a gardener’s muscles work as he labours, to show how gardening can be considered a form of exercise.
Organic gardening expert Jekka McVicar has also acknowledged the theme with her Modern Apothecary Garden inspired by conversations with medical professionals about how to improve our own health with the help of plants. As ever, the Great Pavilion will house more than 100 specialist plant breeders, nurseries and societies, as well as a 60-foot carriage from Belmond British Pullman, which will form part of a 6,000sq ft planted-up station.
HIGHLIGHTS AT A GLANCE
BRITISH ECCENTRICS GARDEN
Designed by TV host and garden designer Diarmuid Gavin and sponsored by Harrods, this imaginative Show Garden features elaborate machinery and garden gadgetry that comes to life every 15 minutes.
Designed by Peter Eustance and sponsored by disability charity Papworth Trust, this garden was inspired by the world famous and profoundly deaf percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. The garden will play musical notes to visitors.
QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY ARCH
To mark the 90th birthday of the RHS patron, the Queen, this year’s show will feature photographic exhibits and a floral arch.
CHELSEA BY TWILIGHT
The Ronnie Scott’s Orchestra comes to the bandstand at The Royal Hospital on 22 May for an outdoor evening performance of jazz classics. The concert starts at 8.15pm. Tickets include entrance to the show at 5.30pm and a glass of Champagne and cost £65 for RHS members, £73 for non-members.
A display of thousands of handmade poppies, designed by Phillip Johnson, will adorn the entrance to this year’s show, bringing a spirit of the Tower of London poppy display to Chelsea.