It is one of the most loved events in the London calendar, a staple of life in the capital since 1820, and an event that is renowned the world over. It’s the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show and it’s back in London this May.
The show has survived two world wars, one general strike and a ban on garden gnomes (lifted in 2013) and it is still going strong. So, what is the secret of the Chelsea Flower Show’s longevity?
Well, preparation, for one thing.
The event takes a team of 800 people 33 days to prepare. If that last fact shocked you consider that The Great Pavilion alone measures 2.90 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses!
In 2015, 10,823 glasses of champagne were served, as well as 7,720 glasses of Pimm’s.
Backbone is important.
A 1927 campaign to encourage the RHS to ban foreign exhibits at Chelsea was rebuffed with the RHS saying ‘horticulture knows nothing of nationality.’
The RHS have been organising flower shows since 1820. In 1862 they launched an event called the Great Spring Show at their garden in Kensington. Before this the shows had been held at Chiswick but due to falling numbers it was decided to move to a new location. The Great Spring Show was a success and in 1888 it moved again, this time to Temple Gardens, near the Embankment.
Here it stayed until 1912 when the show was cancelled because of a clash with the Royal International Horticultural Exhibition. This was being held at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. When this event proved a hit and the venue a resounding success the organisers of the Great Spring Show decided that they too should move to Chelsea.
A lot of love is a given.
The Royal Horticultural Society are incredibly passionate about the show and the enriching effect that horticulture and gardening can have on people.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show will take place between the 21st and the 26th of September 2021.
More information about the festival can be found here.
Information on other outdoor activities in London can be found here.