The Dobies Guide to RHS Chelsea
May 1, 2020
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the most renowned horticultural event in the country. Occurring every year in May it’s a “must not miss” event for the most esteemed horticulturalists and enthusiasts.
The Chelsea Flower Show… But not as we know it!
We had planned to create a ‘Dobies Guide to Chelsea 2020’, with sights to see, things to do and even a little guide to the best nibbles at the show! However, this year, for obvious reasons, the RHS have had to make the difficult decision to cancel the Chelsea Flower Show as we know it. Decisions such as this have only happened a few times in the long history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. In fact, since the very Chelsea first flower show in 1913, the only time they have cancelled the show is during the two World Wars.
Yet all is not lost! The RHS have been working tirelessly to bring the whole event online, allowing horticulturalists the world over a chance to experience the show from the comfort of their own homes. How will this work you ask? Read on for our guide to creating the Chelsea Flower Show experience wherever you are…
There’s no set dress code at the Chelsea Flower Show, however, many enjoy getting dressed up for the special horticultural occasion. You’ll see smarter gents wearing blazers and light trousers, while many women go for a light, summery dress and extravagant hat.
We feel it would be a shame to miss out on this opportunity, and fully encourage getting the glad rags out at home!
A typical day at the Chelsea Flower Show consists of visiting all the amazing gardens and displays that UK growers have poured their hearts into for the past 12 months and longer! For some, this is a change to display a lifetime’s work. You would be able to admire the unique designs, spot some of your favourite varieties in all their glory, or even discover new & inspiring additions to grow at home.
Despite not being able to meander round the beautiful displays this year, the RHS will be hosting free garden tours on their website. Each morning the show will kick off with a tour from one of the world’s leading garden designers, florists or gardening personalities of their own private gardens. Here they’ll be sharing their top design tips, favourite planting combinations and gardening trends with virtual visitors. These leading growers will also host daily potting bench demonstrations, sharing specialist plant expertise, growing techniques and tips on how to keep plants happy and healthy.
Some of the spectacular plant displays that were due to fill the Great Pavilion, the jewel in RHS Chelsea’s crown, will be replicated virtually at home for the world to enjoy.
A Family Friendly Show
The RHS have strived to make this digital event family friendly too. Therefore, they have set up a daily School Gardening Club, providing a wealth of activities for families to get together, play, dig, grow plants and connect with nature. It also aims to inspire the next generation of budding gardeners, with fun worshops including best practices, and growing & maintenance techniques.
Lunchtime at Chelsea
Lunchtime at the Chelsea Flower Show is a truly scrummy affair. We have to admit that we will greatly miss perusing amazing pop-up restaurants and sampling some of the best food on offer in London – from artisan menus to flower show inspired afternoon teas. However, with this year’s show being digital, this one is a little harder to replicate online!
Our recommendation? Prepare yourselves a Chelsea Flower Show inspired picnic to enjoy Al Fresco in the garden! Take your laptop with you too, because the RHS have some lunchtime activities you won’t want to miss out on! RHS advisors are going to be joined by special guests for an interactive Q&A session. These guests have yet to be announced, so we’ll leave it to your imagination! Who would you want a 1-on-1 Q&A with?
Esteemed UK growers who would have been attending the event will also provide behind the scenes access to their nurseries with some even replicating their displays that would have been in the great pavilion. Whatever you have for lunch, the entertainment is fantastic!
By now you may be growing tired of the large crowds, as you continue to make your way around the displays, typically after having eaten too much flower show inspired cake! However, there is still lots more to do.
This year was meant to have a dedicated area for floristry, boasting a ‘huge makeover’, with competitions being held in the great pavilion. The following categories were being judged:
- British – Blooms, using flowers and foliage from the UK only
- Preservation – which will challenge florists to use dried plant material
- Pollination – plants to attract insects
- ‘Beauty of Nature’ categories provide themes for the larger installations
We hope that the Chelsea Flower Show is still able to pay homage to this in some way virtually, whether we see the displays as videos, or the love and dedication which goes into each and every entry.
Now, Chelsea Flower Show can’t be complete without the highly renowned awards – the most famous of which must be the RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year Award.
This year the RHS celebrates a decade of the RHS Chelsea “Plant of the Year” competition with a public vote to decide the “Plant of the Decade”. Many of these award-winning varieties have become garden favourites and been sold in astounding numbers. Details for voting are not yet publicised, but you’ll be the first to know when we do!
The Great Plant Sell-Off
The ringing of the bell at 4pm on the final day signifies the start of The Great Plant Sell-Off. You’ll see the show descend into very British organised chaos, while people assemble makeshift shopping trolleys and the blazer sleeves are rolled up to the elbow. It’s everyone for themselves, as many try to get their hands on some of the varieties which have been wowing visitors for the entire show.
We didn’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to get your hands on new and exciting varieties, so why not visit our website to see our would-be nominations for Plant of the Year and a selection of fantastic plant offers, to have a taste of Chelsea delivered to your home?!
RHS Chelsea Flower Show Programme & TV Listings
As you may know by now, unfortunately, The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled this year but fear not. Many of the best things about the show are heading online and to our tv screens. We have put together a ‘virtual’ calendar to keep you up to date with all the wonderful things going on during the week of RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Monday 18th May – RHS Members Day
Kicking off the virtual Chelsea Flower Show experience is RHS Members Day. Expect exclusive Chelsea Flower Show content designed for RHS members only. RHS President Sir Nicholas Bacon will officially open the online show with a welcome message with Vice President Alan Titchmarsh.
RHS members will have the opportunity to join Monty Don on his usual morning routine. Taking you on a tour of the famous Longmeadow garden, he will be showing everything from feeding the chickens to exclusive glimpses at unseen areas of the garden too. Definitely not something to miss out on!
Throughout the day there will be several professional and celebrity designers showcasing their talents. So learn from the best, A top celebrity designer will be demonstrating how they create a modern floral display, helping you bring beautiful blooms of seasonal foliage and flowers into the home.
Go behind the scenes of Raymond Evison’s Guernsey nursery with a tour from the Clematis specialist himself. This exclusive access will show off the very best Guernsey’s flowers have to offer! Make sure to watch Rosy Hardy’s potting bench demonstration too. Rosy Hardy of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants will be showing you the best practices to create beautiful displays.
What’s On TV
BBC1 15:45 – Making the Most of Colour – Make the most of colour in your garden, no matter the size. Nicki Chapman is hosting this colourful spectacle.
BBC2 20:00 – Best of British – Celebrating the best of British at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Monty & Joe meet with the designers & passionate plants people that make the Chelsea Flower Show a quintessentially British affair.
Tuesday 19th May – Perfect Plants
The most decorated female designer in RHS Chelsea Flower Show history, Sarah Eberle will be welcoming visitors into her naturalistic woodland garden with the benefit of sharing some of her top tips for gardening this summer.
Co-designer of this year’s M&G Garden, Charlotte Harris will take viewers on a lockdown tour of some of London’s public parks. The show will focus on highlighting the value of having inner city green spaces and showing some of the best performing plants for urban gardens.
Ian Drummond, leading indoor garden specialist accompanied by expert gladioli grower, Rob Evans will lead Tuesday’s potting bench tutorials. Showcasing some of the amazing skills present at Pheasant Acre Plants.
There’s more, You will be able to ‘virtually’ meet the David Austin Roses team who have been displaying their award winning roses at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for 37 years!
What’s On TV
BBC2 7:15 – Making the Most of Colour – Make the most of colour in your garden, no matter the size. Nicki Chapman is hosting this colourful spectacle.
BBC1 15:45 – Making the Most of Space – Nicki Chapman & the tema will be offering tips & tricks on how to make the most of space in your garden.
BBC2 20:00 – Around the World – Meet the fleet of plants people and designers that travel thousands of miles from all over the world to bring innovative & creative ideas to RHS Chelsea Flower Show every year.
Wednesday 20th May – Health & Wellbeing
Wednesday is all about health & wellbeing and the importance of keeping your plants healthy.
Enjoy talks from multi gold medal winning designer and presenter of Gardeners’ World, Adam Frost who will be explaining how he considers plant health. He will be showing us all round his stunning Lincolnshire garden too!
For a more exotic touch to the day, Renowned Chelsea favourite, Japanese designer Ishihara Kazuyuk will be providing insight into his beautiful garden at home in Japan.
A real treat to finish Tuesday off, one of the most celebrated British florists, Nikki Tibbles will be showing us how to create magnificent seasonal bouquets. We can only hope to have something that resembles the beautiful bouquets Nikki produces as the founder of Wild at Heart.
What’s On TV
BBC2 07:15 – Making the Most of Space – Nicki Chapman & the tema will be offering tips & tricks on how to make the most of space in your garden
BBC1 15:45 – Making the Most of Nature – Nikki Chapman & the team will be showing us how to make the most of nature & natural spaces in our own gardens.
BBC2 20:00 – Trailblazers and Trendsetters – Join Monty Don & Joe Swift as they tour the most famous flower show in the world in search of the trailblazers & trendsetters! Also showing his inspiration is fashion designer Paul Smith!
Thursday 21st May – Grow Your Own
Cut flower expert Sarah Raven will be taking visitors on an all access tour of her garden at Perch Hill in East Sussex. Focusing on which flowers are ready cutting.
The Chelsea pensioners will be showing what they have been busy in their allotment during the lockdown period.
Demonstrating how to use flowers & foliage in creative ways, celebrity florist Larry Walshe will be showing us how to use flowers to create chic garden table settings. Vegetable grower Medwyn Williams will be sharing his top tips on growing vegetables at home.
What’s On TV
BBC2 07:15 – Making the Most of Nature – Nikki Chapman & the team will be showing us how to make the most of nature & natural spaces in our own gardens.
BBC1 15:45 – Making the Most of Your Budget – Make the most of your budget in your garden as Nikki Chapman & the team show you some interesting & innovative ways to use your budget.
BBC2 20:00 – A Better World – Join Monty Don & the team to celebrate plants & the positive power they bring. The team will be focusing on the designers and growers striving for a better world with the creations they bring to the flower show.
Friday 22nd May – Wildlife & Environment
Garden designer Tom Massey will be demonstrating how to create an organic wildlife haven.Taking inspiration from his design for The Yeo Valley Garden he intended for this year’s show, he will demonstrate some aesthetic tips & tricks on a smaller scale. Follow award winning designer Ann- Marie Powell around her Hampshire garden as she shares her top tips for designing beautiful displays.
Friday’s expert will be Sienna Hosta giving a tour of the stunning plants that have been grown for this year’s show.
Leading the potting bench demonstration will be the team at Newlands Nursery. Showing us how to make the most from chilli pepper plants and ensuring a constant supply for all our culinary uses.
What’s On TV
BBC2 07:15 – Making the Most of Your Budget – Make the most of your budget in your garden as Nikki Chapman & the team show you some interesting & innovative ways to use your budget.
BBC1 15:45 – Making the Most of Your Time – Nicki Chapman and the team help you make the most of your time in your own garden, including ideas for low-maintenance lawns.
BBC2 20:00 – Legends and Legacies – Monty Don, Joe Swift and the team look at the legends and legacies that have made the Chelsea Flower Show the greatest event in the horticultural calendar.
Saturday 23rd May – Small Space Gardening
Saturday marks the final day of the virtual show. Dedicated to indoor gardening & growing plants in small spaces.
Andy Sturgeon, last RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning designer will be giving us a tour of his own courtyard garden. Sharing design and growing tips as he goes for those smaller outdoor spaces.
Orchids are one of the UK’s favourite house plants. So as a homage to this, we’ll be able to meet with McBeans Orchids, the UK’s oldest orchid nursery and winner of over 70 RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medals!
Finally, Andy’s Air Plants and London-based interior planting duo, RoCo will be showing us how to propagate all different kinds of plants that will help transform any indoor living space you want to fill with stunning plants.
So, enjoy another glass of Pimms in the garden, dress to impress, and let’s make the most of this situation by celebrating that which makes us happy at the darkest times. We’d also like to extend our gratitude to the RHS for innovating and continuing to provide us with an avenue to explore the horticultural world from home.
Finally, we’ll be posting daily “Virtual Chelsea” updates, so make sure you’re following our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a week of horti heaven! See you at the show…