In 1913, Sir Harry Veitch of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) established the Great Spring Show on the grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital, London. A resounding success, the event now better known as the Chelsea Flower Show has been held at the venue almost every year since and is a perennial highlight of the capital’s horticultural calendar.
The 2013 show takes place next week, running from Tuesday to Saturday (May 21st to May 25th). To commemorate this special anniversary year, the RHS has a programme of centenary events planned that promise to make the Chelsea Flower Show more spectacular than ever.
Accordingly, tickets are in high demand. They’re not yet sold out, though, so green-fingered tourists staying in London hotels this month still have an opportunity to count themselves among the 161,000 individual visitors expected to attend the show over its five-day run.
A highlight of the anniversary celebrations is sure to be the RHS Chelsea Centenary Concert, which takes place next Friday (May 24th). Guests will receive a glass of Champagne on arrival before reclining in exquisite surroundings to hear the mellifluous voices of performers from Opera Holland Park, who’ll be singing opera’s finest flower-themed arias – including classics like the Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakme.
Meanwhile, the flower show itself will feature exhibits from an astonishing 500 different growers and garden designers, coming to Chelsea from all around the world. Attendees can peruse trade stands and admire eight artisan gardens, 11 fresh gardens and 15 trade gardens. The products of months of labour, these exhibits are described by the RHS as “a catwalk of colour and creativity”.
A special category of horticultural displays entitled ‘Generation Gardens’ will highlight how much the gardening world has changed over the last 100 years. Pennard Plants, for instance, have grown a pair of vegetable gardens that’ll be shown side by side – one that might have been seen in 1913 and another facilitated by cutting edge new methods.
For Underground travellers, the Chelsea Royal Hospital is closest to the Sloane Square tube stop.