The Chelsea Flower Show: what to see at the biggest event of the year

The M&G Garden from Chelsea 2012
On 19th May, thousands of horticulture fans will head to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to take in some of the most stunning displays the garden world has to offer.  The Chelsea Flower Show remains incredibly popular, and it’s not hard to see why.

If you’re heading down to the biggest garden event in the world, you might be a bit stumped as to which of the many hundreds of displays on offer you should check out.  We’ve already earmarked these…

It’s a mouthful of a name, but this garden looks like it will be a superb representation of the 105 acre Chatsworth Garden, all slotted into a smaller Chelsea space.  Inspired by both the ornamental trout stream of Chatsworth and the Paxton Rockery, this garden will reflect the lightness, freshness and delicacy of the almost iconic Champagne House.

The Royal Bank of Canada have contributed a garden at the event for the last five years, and they’re returning again with this Matthew Wilson-designed space.  Exploring sustainability through design, the garden is split into three sections: a zero irrigation ‘dry garden’, a central water harvesting and storage zone and then an edible garden complete with a full dining platform.  It’s set to be one of the most unique spaces at the show.

For history fans, The Living Legacy
Created to mark the 200th anniversary of Wellington’s victory at the battle of Waterloo, the Living Legacy garden will take in the fascinating atmosphere of the battle and work through into a brighter look that represents the progressive and positive future that occurred post-battle.  Elements of the garden are in fact directly inspired by the terrain at Waterloo itself.

The debut of John Tan and Raymond Toh at the flower show, the Hidden Beauty is heavily inspired by the suburb of Singapore known for its lush natural landscape, tropical plants, orchid farms and wetlands.  The garden is filled to the brim with tropical plants and ferns and is flanked by coconuts, palms and figs.  If you want to be whisked away to a foreign shore, The Hidden Beauty is a must-see.

For traditionalists, The Retreat
The brainchild of award-winning designer Jo Thompson, The Retreat is the work of show sponsors M&G Investments.    With a beautifully crafted oak-framed building, a natural dipping pool and an assortment of irises, roses and geraniums spread across the plantation, it almost resembles a classic English country garden: a must for any flower show in itself.

Where to stay?
If this is the first time you’ve headed to London, there are three main options you should look at in terms of where to stay.

·         Hotel rooms.  This might well be the best option if you want to be as close to the event as possible.  Given that the event is in central London, it should come as no surprise that there are hundreds of rooms within easy reach!  Chelsea is one of the most expensive areas in the capital, though, so rooms won’t be cheap.

·         Bed and breakfasts.  A budget option if you don’t want to stump up for a hotel room, B’n’Bs can cheaper than hotels.  The one thing to consider is that you often don’t get the mod-cons such as breakfast and dinner or daily cleaning that you’ll get in a hotel.

·         Serviced apartments.  A great option for those travelling as a family or as part of a larger group.  For the price of an equivalent hotel room, you can enjoy a full apartment with a complete living area and kitchen.  If you’re staying for the full show and want something bigger than a single hotel room, a serviced apartment from the likes of Refresh Apartments could be ideal.

Above all else, remember to have a brilliant time: the Chelsea Flower Show is something that every single gardening fan should visit at least once, but preferably more.  Get your tickets, and get down to London on 19th May!

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