You may have noticed that I have a thing about flowers so I was always going to love Chelsea Flower Show - the greatest celebration of flowers in the world. It's the equivalent of Paris fashion week for flowers hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society. Even the Queen attends! It's held in Chelsea, an area of London that I love, for five days every May and makes for a lovely day or evening out full of prettiness.
Last year was my second time to the show, I went for a day a couple of years back but just bought evening tickets for last summer with my parents and Ben. My Grandma is a member of the RHS so she buys us tickets and gets a discount and entrance to the members only days at the start of the show. It's still stupidly busy on the members days but the crowds are part of the experience. Going in an evening was really lovely and when we paid for a day ticket didn't even stay for the whole of it.
We got the tube to Sloane Square and came above ground to find the whole of Chelsea in bloom, it's a mini festival where the shops and restaurants compete for the best window floral displays. It's worth a walk in the area at that time of year even if you're not going to the flower show. Savills the estate agents had arches made of hydrangeas and Hamptons filled wellington boots with summer cottage garden flowers. Links of London had a big bow made out of peonies and Kate Spade had a tropical toucan!
It was a show in itself just walking to the Royal Hospital for the show ground.
There are a number of designer show gardens that compete for medals from the judges. They're creative, often innovative and take you on a journey. Some will be ultra modern, some explore themes like sustainability. I like the ones that use water and sculptures amongst pretty flowers the best. There's usually a few that really stand out. Last year was definitely the year for a more wild style of planting with lots of cow parsley and foxgloves. You can get some amazing ideas for your own garden for planting combinations and designs.
We head to the show gardens first as they tend to be the busiest. You'll often see them being filmed for the coverage on the BBC. Most celebrities go on the preview day before the show officially opens but you'll probably spot a few presenting or walking around. On our first visit we met Alan Titchmarsh, Joe Swift and Nigel Slater.
There are smaller show gardens with a more cottagey feel across the other side of the ground which I love and are often a lot quieter than the main ones. There's also a tree lined street with exhibitors selling gorgeous garden bits, gifts, special seeds, gloves, you name it anything garden it will be at Chelsea. There are furniture sellers, greenhouse exhibitors, fire pits etc. There are normally some nice vintage stalls there selling old jugs, planters, outdoor lights, bunting as you walk around too. And a food court area although eat before you visit as it's ridiculously expensive even for bottled water. We can never resist an ice cream or Pimms though!
There's a huge show tent in the middle of the show ground full of every type of flower - the most perfect manicured specimens. It's incredible.
Growers will have been preparing for the show for years from breeding new varieties to keeping their daffodils in the fridge trying to delay the flowers and sometimes using hairdryers to speed up some plants or open up flowers like peonies. It really is the creme de la creme of the flower world.
There are some fun ideas on displaying flowers like these suitcases. The whole thing is like an art exhibition. This was illustrating how flowers have come from across the globe.
Peonies will always be my favourite but it's hard not to like any of the displays in the show tent. The alliums are always spectacular. The David Austin section is always rather special too. Rose heaven!!
The smell is 👌👌👌.
I just want to buy everything that I see there. You can't actually purchase anything in the show tent or from the show gardens but there are plenty of brochures around for you to place orders or go home and look up the growers. I don't think my garden has room for anymore David Austin roses at the moment anyway! Bring on the summer.
Roses plus afternoon tea anyone??!!
Ok roses plus afternoon tea plus cute chamomile daisies?! Too beautiful.
Love these auriculas.
Fruit and veg is big in the tent too with a big emphasis on growing your own. We picked up some good ideas last year like growing strawberry plants in guttering for our allotment. All in all, a truly lovely way to spend a day or evening! If you're thinking of going then book your tickets in advance through the RHS website, they sell out fast.
We're trying out the Hampton Court Flower Show, also run by the RHS but a bit later on in the season, instead of Chelsea this summer but looking at these photos makes me think we'll have to return next year!
Have you been? If you're into flowers then you'd love love love it. A quintessentially British event that marks the start of the summer.
R <3 xx