The Chelsea Flower Show, also officially known as the Great Spring Show, is one of the biggest garden shows in the world and is held for five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London. The show, which has been held at Chelsea since 1912, is attended by members of the British royal family.
Highlights of the Chelsea Flower Show include the avant-garde show gardens designed by leading names with the floral marquee at the centre. The show also features smaller gardens such as Artisan and Urban Gardens.
The Royal Horticultural Society's first Great Spring Show was held in 1862 at the RHS Garden in Kensington. Prior to that year, the RHS had held flower shows in its Chiswick garden since 1833. Kensington Garden was chosen as the site because flower shows at Chiswick were experiencing declining attendance due to poor transportation.
The Great Spring Show was held in Kensington for 26 years, but in 1888 the RHS decided to move the show to the heart of London. The Temple Gardens, located between Embankment and Fleet Streets, were chosen as the site, with a history dating back to 1307. They are said to date back to the time of the Knights Templar. The roses for which these Temple Gardens were famous were even mentioned by Shakespeare in "Henry VI".
The Chelsea Flower Show gets a lot of attention every year. The flower show is visited by more than 150,000 guests every year. The area where the event is held is 45,000 square meters. Visitors have to buy tickets in advance. Usually, the tickets are sold out quickly.
Since 2005, the Chelsea Flower Show has lasted five days instead of four. However, the first two days are open exclusively to members of the RHS. British television, the BBC, broadcasts the show extensively on television. Several members of the British royal family are attending a preview of the show as part of the RHS's royal patronage.
The flower show grounds are now an important place to observe trends. The show often features new plants and revives the popularity of older varieties in the focus of the horticultural world. The show can be considered the same for the gardening world as fashion weeks for fashion.
Among the highlights of past RHS Chelsea Flower Shows was Diarmuid Gavin's Irish Sky Garden, presented in 2011. This garden is based on the idea of a restaurant in the sky. Other gardens worth seeing included Leeds City Council's HESCO Garden, which reconstructed an impressive and idyllic working water wheel on the grounds of the Royal Hospital.
The garden show in the heart of the English capital becomes more interesting because of the prizes and awards. Award categories include flora, garden and flower displays, as well as trees and vegetables and herbs.
There are the following honours:
- Award for the best show garden
- Award for the best courtyard garden
- Award for the most beautiful garden
- Award for the best urban garden
The main events of the Chelsea Flower Show
Start your visit to the flower show with the sensational gardens. The sensational gardens are the best place to discover the latest trends and innovative ideas in garden design. The spectacular Show Gardens offer a slice of garden theatre, while the smaller Sanctuary Gardens address the benefits of gardens for well-being.
The new "All About Plants" category represents speciality plants. The Balcony and Pot Gardens, meanwhile, represent urban living and are designed to be planted in the city.
RHS Chelsea's Great Pavilion will be filled with the special sights and delightful scents of spring. Some of the world's best growers and nurseries will be putting on stunning displays and offering expert advice when visiting. The colours and scents provide a unique mood to every pavilion.
Even heavenly houseplants grow in indoor plant studios. The green Ranelagh Gardens offer even more living inspiration with plants. In 2022, for example, designers had the freedom to dress each studio to represent any room in a home. The selection of designs was both fun and fabulous.
As houseplants become more popular, this is the perfect opportunity to discover unusual plants that you can use to decorate your home.
The Discovery Zone in the Great Pavilion hosts exhibits showcasing the latest discoveries in horticultural science. Visitors can explore inspiring insights and connections, many of which highlight the benefits of gardening to combat climate change or improve mental well-being.
Highlights in past years have included the London Fire Brigade's flood prevention exhibit and Dalefoot Composts and Eden Project, which showcase the need to choose peat-free composts.
The Chelsea Flower Show is also the place to buy great presents for your friends. The RHS Chelsea offers a unique selection of horticultural products and gifts, making it the perfect place to browse and buy items and plants for home and garden. Visitors can experience the show's stylish atmosphere with boutique shopping.
Hand-picked craft booths can be found throughout the show floor, offering visitors inspiration at every turn and the opportunity to purchase a special Chelsea souvenir.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is where you can see cutting-edge garden designs and find ideas to take home.
It is an event that attracts a truly global audience and is the "haute couture" of the international garden scene.
Speciality nurseries showcase new plants for the first time; the best designers from Japan to New York present their amazing creations; fashion brands and manufacturers showcase their latest lines at the trade stands. And yet, every May, Chelsea is so much more than that - it's a place to indulge and celebrate, to sip champagne and enjoy the finest culinary experiences.
Learn more about the Chelsea Flower Show
Also, check our list of the best hotels in London and book your stay during the event.