The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is deemed to be one of, if not the most prestigious flower show in the world, with over 150,000 visitors over five days. The Chelsea Flower Show has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London every year since 1913, transforming the whole area into magical show gardens, inspirational small gardens and vibrant horticultural displays. For Mother’s Day this year I surprised TIG’s mum with two tickets – on one condition, that she took me as her plus 1!
What’s the idea: Tickets to The RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Who for: Mainly adults – they do stipulate no children under 5
Cost: The cost all depends on which day you visit and how far in advance you purchase your ticket. I paid £59 for a full day public ticket for the Saturday.
Where can I find out more: www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show
We arrived for opening at 8am Saturday morning and there were already huge crowds of people waiting for the garden gates to open for the final time of 2015. There was an incredible buzz about the place, with many people really dressing up for the occasion!
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a Saturday ‘plant sell-off’ day at The Chelsea Flower Show. I have been to the show once previously for a preview evening, which was relatively quiet, with un-obstructed views to any garden we wanted to see. It soon became apparent as we entered the show that this was going to be a very different experience!
Getting there early is definitely a good idea, and we headed straight to the show gardens so that we could view them without too many people crowding around. All 15 show gardens were spectacular, each telling their own inspirational story, with an amazing array of colours and fragrances.
The judges favourite was the Laurent-Perrier and Chatsworth triangular shaped garden which was absolutely breathtaking. This was Chatsworth’s first time exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show and with one of the most difficult shaped gardens they certainly had a debut to remember.
The 8 smaller artisan gardens took us a while to discover as they were off the beaten track through the woodland, and rather difficult to view with the now crowded pathways. However they were really beautiful, and the colours, textures and smells were just out of this world. This ‘Trug Workshop’ was one of my absolute favourites. These gardens are much more intimate than the larger show gardens, and that’s what I loved about them – each one was so natural that you felt they had been there for years!
The free live music on the Ranelagh Gardens bandstand was an added bonus, whenever our feet were getting weary we took ourselves to the bandstand and enjoyed listening to the talented swing bands performing.
The food stalls sold a wide variety of produce with everything from fish & chips, pizza and chicken to incredible cakes…which I just had to try! The food was expensive – probably what you would expect from being in Chelsea and at a flower show! If I went again I would definitely pack a few snacks and drinks in my bag to keep me going. Many people appeared to bring their own posh picnics which was a great idea.
After lunch we ventured into the Great Pavilion which was deceptively huge – it did provide great shelter from the rain later in the afternoon though! In here were the specialist nurseries and plant breeders with unique plant and flower displays, each lovingly tended and artfully created by their passionate owners. Fun fact for you; there is enough room in this pavilion for either 500 London buses or two football pitches – it was big!
Next we explored the Fresh Gardens – branded the ‘cutting-edge’ of the Chelsea Flower Show. These gardens are uniquely different using the latest in contemporary materials, incorporating innovative, and unusual designs.
We then queued for about 15 minutes to get in to the Floral Design Studio, but it was worth the wait to see the most exquisite works of art by 32 amateur floral arrangers – definitely a ‘wow’ time!
After exhausting all the gardens at least three times each, we finished off looking around the streets of boutique stalls selling unusual and unique garden related products. From grand summer houses and garden furniture, to hand-crafted gifts, cosmetics and accessories. This was a unique and fun shopping experience to end the day and by this point some of the crowds had dispersed which was an added bonus!
I didn’t have a particular passion for plants before the show, however, these gardens were truly inspiring and I now can’t wait to get to work on my flower box! I was truly immersed in this floral heaven – the Chelsea Flower Show is a real feast for the eyes. I watch the Chelsea Flower Show programmes every year on TV but there is just something quite magical about being there and definitely something that you need to experience at least once!
TIG’s mum says…
“I had just the most wonderful day – the gardens were absolutely beautiful, and I only wish I could transplant them into mine – I definitely came away with serious ‘garden envy’ and the compulsion to dig up my garden, plant up myriads of seed trays and spend a fortune at the garden centre – be warned, a £59 ticket to the Chelsea Flower Show is just the start……!”
- Book well in advance to avoid disappointment (I booked mine in January). This show is always a sell out!
- If you are not interested in purchasing any plants then opt for a midweek ticket for a quieter and slightly more civilised experience!
- Wear comfy shoes!
- Bring a car with plenty of boot space if you want to take a little bit of Chelsea home with you – or just buy the seeds!
- Buy a programme in advance and read up on the gardens you would like to visit, then come up with a rough plan of what to see first before the crowds arrive.
- Get there for opening, you will thank me for it!
Any bad points?
It was ever so slightly too busy, especially when it started to rain, as everyone ran for shelter in the Great Pavilion and it became a little uncomfortable with all the crowds.
Would I go again?
I wouldn’t go again on the Saturday as it was just too crowded for my liking, however, I would certainly go midweek or to a preview evening.
Have you been to The Chelsea Flower Show?
What were your best bits?
Was there anything you didn’t like?