Highlights from the world’s largest garden event

Flower Show, May 22, 2023 in London, England.Getty Images

The world’s largest gardening event, the Chelsea Flower Show, also known as ‘The Great Spring Show’, opened this week and runs through Saturday 27th May. King Charles, Queen Camilla, Princess of Wales, Dame Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter, Dominic West and Matthew Macfadyen are just a few of the many well-known visitors.

Kazuyuki Ishihara. Sponsored by Glion and Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory. sanctuary garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Stand #280.RHS / Sarah Cuttle

Every May since 1913 the Royal Horticultural Society Exhibition has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, showcasing world-class gardens, magnificent floral displays and even educational exhibitions. The floral spectacle attracts around 168,000 visitors from home and abroad who not only enjoy the beautiful gardens but also receive valuable gardening tips from RHS consultants during the show, a benefit normally reserved for RHS members.

Chelsea Flower Show by LaduréeLadurée

You could easily spend hours at the fair as there is so much to see, as well as numerous options for drinks, lunch, afternoon tea and even special limited edition macarons from French patisserie Ladurée. Here are some of the highlights if you manage to snag tickets to one of London’s most popular annual events.

Exhibitions about the late Queen Elizabeth II designed by Dave Green. feature garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Stand #111.RHS / Tim Sandall

This year’s show commemorates the life of the late Queen, who rarely missed her annual visit to RHS Chelsea during her 70-year reign. Designer Dave Green’s hedge-enclosed ‘A Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration’ features an array of pastel plants in light shades of pink and white, such as ‘Olivia Austin’ rose and silver birch, to create a space for reflection to enhance taste to reflect the late monarch . And in the Great Pavilion, Agrumi Topiary Art has created a topiary exhibition depicting ‘Emma’, the fallen pony, who stood at attention on the driveway of Windsor Castle to pay homage to her as the Queen’s funeral procession on the day of the funeral passed.

Flowers for the new King and Queen Evison Clematis stand at the Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 22, 2023 in London, England. TGetty Images

According to Sandringham’s head gardener Jack Lingfield, shades of blue, purple and pink such as ‘Heaven Scent’ magnolia, ‘The Duchess of Cornwall’ clematis, lupins and geraniums represent the King’s preferences.

Edible plants sponsored by Savills. show garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Stand #324.RHS / Sarah Cuttle

Other themes at the show include edible plants, which are a popular choice among designers this year. The School Food Matters Garden is 80 percent edible plants, while the Savills Garden showcases plot-to-plate recipes.

Show gardens designed by Charlie Hawkes. Sponsored by The National Brain Appeal and Project Giving Back. Booth #285. RHS / Sarah Cuttle

Founded in 1804, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is the UK’s largest horticultural charity. RHS’ vision is to enrich life through plants and make Britain a greener and more beautiful place through inspirational gardens and shows, scientific research and advice, extensive library holdings and far-reaching educational and community programmes. Several of the twelve award-winning show gardens were charities this year. The National Brain Appeal’s Rare Space Garden, designed by Charlie Hawkes, was sponsored by The National Brain Appeal and Project Giving Back. Constructed of contrasting materials, the space has a simple layout that strikes a balance between exploration and quiet navigation. The focal point is a level path that runs through the garden and offers three seating areas along its path with visually contrasting shelters in different colors to encourage independent orientation. Soothing water features placed next to each seating area also add to the restful atmosphere.

Hawkes. Sponsored by Samaritans and Project Giving Back. show garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Stand #325.RHS / Neil Hepworth

Award-winning garden designer and Samaritans volunteer Darren Hawkes’ Samaritans’ Listening Garden celebrates the charity’s 70th year of helping people struggling to cope. The garden shows that while the path to hope may seem fraught with obstacles, there is support and it is always possible for things to change.

by Chris Beardshaw. Sponsored by Myeloma UK and Project Giving Back. show garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Stand #327.RHS / Neil Hepworth

Myeloma UK – A Life Worth Living Garden was designed by award-winning gardener Chris Beardshaw, who drew inspiration from conversations with people in the myeloma community. The ingenious use of a circular path that meanders through the garden encourages multiple myeloma patients to stop, just feel and be in the here and now.

Attractive garden ‘Weeds for Gardens’ designed by Jilayne Rickards on press day ahead of the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London on May 22, 2023. AFP via Getty Images

Naturalistic planting returns as a horticultural theme, with nettles, red campion, daisies and bindweed in the Royal Entomological Society Garden and thistles and brambles in the Fauna & Flora Garden. Dandelions, brambles: this year there are weeds in the spectacular gardens, more concerned than ever with biodiversity and sustainable development.

Afternoon Tea and Champagne Flower ShowThe Dorchester

A corner of Ranelagh Gardens is designed to resemble the world famous hotel The Dorchester, where a floral-inspired champagne afternoon tea is served. Culinary highlights included a selection of finger sandwiches, warm scones with jam and clotted cream, a selection of pastries and a selection of teas, all accompanied by a glass of Pommery champagne.

The Chelsea Flower Show, London Gate, Royal Hospital Road, Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4SR. Tickets start from £68/£57 for RHS members

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I have been writing for various publications about travel, food, fashion and culture for a decade. I co-founded PayneShurvell, a contemporary art gallery in London which is now an art consultancy in London and Suffolk. I’m co-author of the YouTube art series Great Art Cities Explained with James Payne. My photography partner Paul Allen provides photos for my posts, which often involve a music or arts event, and our travels have taken us to music and arts festivals across Europe. I am co-author of the Citysketch book series spanning London, Paris and New York and I am the author of Fantastic Forgeries: Paint Like Van Gogh. Follow our adventures on Twitter at @jshurvell and on Instagram at @joshurvell and @andfotography2.

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