Photo by Taisiia Stupak on Unsplash
The world’s most famous horticultural event is back for another year, so in celebration of this feast of florals and garden glory, here are some fun facts about the Royal Horticultural Society’s blue ribbon event.
1. The event is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in central London. Founded in 1682 the building, which is ostensibly an alms house construction, and its 66-acre plot offer the truest proximity to the military origin of institutions referred to as hospitals, being retreats for the convalescence of soldiers by offering them medical facilities, accommodation and ‘hospitality’.
Operating today as a charity the Hospital remains the home of up to 300 elderly ex-servicemen, and since 2009, women known as ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ who are instantly recognisable from their bright scarlet tunics which they are required to wear on parade days.
Klimt Flower Garden Silk Tie
2. In 1912 the first event of what has now become known as The Chelsea Flower Show took place on the site of the Royal Hospital when the Royal International Horticultural Exhibition, intended only as a one off, was scheduled that year.
Prior to this and as far back as 1862, the RHS had held an event known as The Great Spring Show in central London at Temple Gardens and then Kensington Gardens. Before that it had held regular flower shows on its Chiswick site starting in 1833 and even earlier hosted numerous fetes.
Klimt Flower Garden Cuff Links
3. The show uses only a proportion of the site and so visiting capacity is limited, promoting exclusivity. Despite this annual visitor numbers exceed 150,000.
4. A multitude of prizes are awarded across categories that recognise excellence in the gardening of flowers, vegetables & herbs, trees, scientific interest, and curated exhibits including floristry and depictions of horticulture.
Special recognition is also given to outstanding designs for city gardens, courtyard gardens, for junior gardeners, best in show and many more.
Klimt Flower Garden Chiffon
5. An early winner at the 2019 event includes a garden created by Jilyan Rickards making her debut entry at the event who elected to create a garden to resemble a rural Zimbabwean school yard, including bio-fortified varieties of maize, beans and sweet potatoes replete with dusty red earth, a black chalkboard and orange trees.
Klimt Flower Garden Pendant