The most famous of these is the Chelsea Flower Show, probably the most important flower and garden show in the world.
The Chelsea Flower Show is held over five days every May in London’s Royal Chelsea Hospital grounds and it attracts many visitors from all over the world. The show dates back to 1862 when it was held at Kensington and called the RHS Great Spring Show. For many years it has received royal patronage and in 2013 it was visited by the Queen as it has been almost every year since her coronation.
The 2013 show was its centenary year and it featured over 500 exhibitors. Some of the highlights included 15 show gardens, 11 fresh gardens and 8 artisan gardens along with 150 exhibits in the Great Pavilion which is the centrepiece of the show and the place where the very latest horticultural innovations are unveiled.
The highly coveted Chelsea Flower Show awards always receive a great deal of publicity. The award categories are for the best gardens in each of the above categories along with numerous Great Pavilion exhibit awards; environmental awards; awards for the best floral arrangements; and florist of the year awards.
This year the best show garden award went to the Trailfinders Australian Garden which used native Australian plants in a relaxing garden including a billabong and waterfalls; the best artisan garden went to a traditional Japanese garden designed as a place for social interaction; and the best fresh garden was called After the Fire and demonstrated how nature is able to regenerate following a forest fire and the unusual beauty its aftermath.
As the capacity of the show is limited by space to just 157,000 visitors a year, it is essential to buy your tickets well in advance if you wish to avoid disappointment. This is easier if you become a member of the RHS where one of the many benefits of membership is access to priority booking and discounted tickets (up to 39 percent price reduction) to the RHS shows.
Other benefits of being an RHS member are free access for you and a guest to the RHS gardens at Wisley, Hyde Hall, Harlow Carr and Rosemoor all of which are homes to diverse collections of plants ; free access to the 145 partner gardens; a monthly magazine; and free access to the RHS advisory service. Members can also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they are supporting the largest gardening charity in the world.
In addition to organising shows, some of the other activities of the RHS include running the special gardens mentioned above; learning and the community including the Britain in the Bloom campaign; and scientific research into plants, their cultivation, pests and diseases. There is also a RHS Library which has the world’s best collection of horticultural publications and botanical paintings.
Many people visit the Chelsea Flower Show in order find inspiration for their own gardens, though it can be difficult to find that special plant or shrub you discovered there at your local garden centre. However it is now possible to buy plants online. Jersey Plants Direct stocks a huge variety of Jersey grown plants, shrubs and bulbs that are shipped directly from Jersey and delivered to any address in the UK for free. If at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show you came across that plant that you must have in your garden, then visit Jersey Plants Direct; the chances are you will find it there.