Horticultural treasures admired by all at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023
Words: Laura Toogood | Photography: Sarah Bacon
The British Social Season is in full swing and the weather has brightened up just in time for one of the highlights of the calendar, the RHS Cheslea Flower Show. As one of the best horticultural occasions in the world, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show attracts the very top growers and gardeners who showcase their produce and creations at the renowned event.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the ultimate horticultural celebration and it sells out year on year, attracting a huge crowd. Visitors from across the globe flock to London to admire this RHS showpiece, which has become one of the most popular events of the British Social Season.
The grounds were bathed in glorious sunshine during the Private View of this year’s show, which took place on Monday. The Princess of Wales arrived in style in a stunning pink dress to join school children for a picnic lunch. Catherine radiated warmth as she smiled and spoke to The Sloaney team and other guests who had gathered to celebrate her involvement at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023.
Catherine was in attendance to support the RHS’s campaign for school gardening. She spent a long time talking to excited school children and encouraging their involvement with gardening. Her relaxed and engaging manner was admired by all and she certainly provided some inspiration to the next generation of gardeners.
The King and Queen arrived later in the evening and spent time touring various parts of the show. The Queen moved straight into the Great Pavilion on arrival to take a look at the displays inside. It is full of the usual breath-taking stands, which include enviably tall delphiniums that are reaching towards the rooftops. The neighbouring lilies provide the usual stunning explosions of colour and enticing scent, with the outstanding bonsai tree specimens also much admired. The selection of tulips on show is also exquisite.
Other highlights in the Great Pavilion include the rose gardens. One of our favourites is the David Austin Rose Garden and this is a main attraction every year. The likes of Paul’s Himalayan Musk can be seen gently wrapping its tendrils through the opening archway, with the Judi Dench rose (launched only a few years ago) nestled alongside other favourites in the lower-level displays, which are packed with a collection of vibrant and colourful blooms.
The King decided to browse the show gardens first, prior to entering the Great Pavilion. These never disappoint and this year there are a number of inspiring designs. The King spent some time in the Samaritans’ Listening Garden, which is designed by Darren Hawkes. The garden was inspired by stories of those who found the courage to reach out to the charity during their darkest times. Contrasting components of the garden and a carefully positioned sculptural bench demonstrates how discussion can help to change perspective. Samaritans volunteers are also present at the show to lend a listening ear to anyone who may benefit.
Meanwhile, the Royal Entomological Society Garden features a striking domed lab, which has been inspired by an insect eye. The garden has been designed to help shine a spotlight on the valuable role of insects and how understanding the creatures better will help with contributing to our general knowledge of biodiversity and climate change.
One area of the show that is attracting great interest this year is the Balcony and Container Gardens section. It really is quite remarkable what can be achieved in small spaces. The Hampden Stargardt Garden has utilised its space to help those who are visually impaired to embrace other senses. The sound of running water, the scent of plants and the texture are all key focus points. It is adjacent to The Platform Garden, which has been inspired by train platforms and is an excellent example of container planting. Old litter bins are among the accessories used for planting and these have been lovingly restored to give them a new lease of life.
Away from the gardens the Shopping Avenue looks like a traditional street in Chelsea and it is full of fabulous boutiques. From unique jewellery to classic clothing, spectacular floral artwork and organic bathroom treats, there is something for everyone. The Bandstand is positioned in a beautiful part of the showground and there are plenty of musical acts providing entertainment throughout the show. The West End Musical Choir will appear on Friday and The Femmes play on most days of the show, along with a number of other performers.
The Champagne Pommery Terrace is the place to unwind and rest your feet while browsing the show. Branded watering cans and planters give a nod to the occasion and guests can sip on Pommery Brut Royal, Pommery Rose or Pommery Apanage Blanc de Blancs. However, be sure to head there early because the queues can be long for this very popular area of respite, where corks will be popping throughout the week.