Chelsea Flower Show 2019 is almost upon us, with doors opening to the public on 21 May. And whether you admire from afar, visit when you can or, like the royals, go every year without fail, we bet you still didn’t know all of this…
9 interesting facts you might not know about Chelsea Flower Show
1. The Royal Hospital Chelsea has hosted the annual flower show since 1913. Despite the First World War, the show was held 1914 – 1916, but was cancelled in 1917 and 1918 as the war took a toll on the Country. The show was also cancelled during the Second World War, as the land was required by the War Office for an anti-aircraft site.
2. Famous faces who have visited the show have included Elizabeth Taylor, Dustin Hoffman, Karl Lagerfeld, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and wife Barbara Bach. The royals are regular attendees. Since her coronation in 1953 the Queen has only missed Chelsea twice due to overseas commitments.
3. In 2016 the Queen was speaking to herb gardener Jekka McVicar. Jekka mentioned that the plant Lily of the Valley was once used as a poison. The Queen retorted: ‘I’ve been given two bunches this week. Perhaps they want me dead…
4. A garden sponsored by YOU Magazine and Yardley won Gold Medal in 1994. It was a recreation of a long-neglected garden found by florist and landscaper Stephen Woodhams in Dorset.
5. In 1937, to mark King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth’s coronation there was an additional exhibition representing the floras of the British Dominions. Plants arrived from remote islands like the Falklands and St Helena. The Seychelles sent their double coconut, the Indian Empire blue poppies and plants of the Himalayas, Australia sent acacias and eucalyptus.
6. The Chelsea in Bloom scheme which started in 2006, encourages local shops and restaurants to join in with their own floral displays during the show. This year’s theme is ‘Under the Sea’.
7. The RHS encourages recycling – garden furniture may be auctioned for charity; compost transported to community gardens; some gardens find permanent homes. On the final day of the show a bell rings at 4pm to mark the start of the great with members of the public leaving the show with armfuls of flowers and boarding buses with giant ferns sticking out of their bags.
8. For this year’s event The Duchess of Cambridge will co-design one of the 28 gardens. The garden called ‘Back to Nature’ is intended to inspire future generations to get into gardening and outdoor activities.
9. Planning each Chelsea Flower Show lasts 15 months, takes 25 days to build and 11 days to dismantle. 8,000 people are involved including a catering crew of 3,000 who help to deliver 11,192 portions of fish and chips and 13,828 cups of tea during show week.
Feature by Susan Hope