Home » Festivals and Events » Review : RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea – 24th to 28th May 2016

Review : RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea – 24th to 28th May 2016



Bright sunshine welcomed the crowds of Press and Media who descended on the Chelsea Flower Show for a sneak preview of the show before it opens to the public on the 24th May. As a tribute to HM The Queen, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)  celebrates her 90th birthday with floral arches at two of the entrances to the show. The primary arch, by leading designer Shane Connolly spans the  Bull Ring gate entrance, situated near to the bank of the river Thames. Another breathtaking display is ‘Poppies’ designed and created by Phillip Johnson which is made from thousands of crocheted poppies made by people from all over the world, the exhibit commemorates the soldiers who died during  the First World War from Australia and New Zealand.


The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been held in the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital, London every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars. Although the title of Britain’s largest flower show has now been overtaken by RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the Chelsea Show is still considered the most prestigious.

 The main attractions tend to be the Show Gardens and the Great Pavilion, however they are just a part of the large but compact showground.  You will find almost anything horticulture related  in the various stands around the site.


The Great Pavilion is one of the highlights of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show due to its  amazing range of exhibits from the world’s best nurseries, growers, florists, specialist societies, horticultural colleges and scientific institutions. The Birmingham City Council provides a large display based on a sport theme but also feature the work of miniature artist, Willard Wigan who produces figures and scenes literally in the eye of a needle.


Another unusual item in the Grand Pavilion is a real Pullman railway carriage, visitors are invited to walk through the coach and admire the views of the plants from the window. Other displays of interest include the Chelsea in Bloom display on the theme of carnival and the area that explores plant science.


One major surprise for the first time visitors to the show is the small size of the Show Gardens, it is a testament to the skill of the garden designers  to capture the essence of their theme in a very limited space.


This year at RHS Chelsea there was plenty of interest in a number of  high-profile gardens, , the ‘Harrods Eccentric British Garden’ designed by Diarmuid Gavin uses twirling trees and other moving features , leading designer Peter Eustance has created an Artisan garden for disability charity Papworth Trust. Inspired by world-renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and the ‘sea music’ produced by the women of the Vanuatu islands, Other dramatic elements at the show include giant jagged bronze fins representing an ancient mountain range in The Daily Telegraph’s garden, by Andy Sturgeon and a 2.5m granite cube, which contains a garden, representing a world inside out by Martin Cook and Gary Breeze.


Although there is often elements of fun in the show, the RHS also tackle some serious issues and their Greening Grey Britain for Health, Happiness and Horticulture Show Garden illustrates the pleasure to be found in gardening or just being in a garden.


The RHS Chelsea Flower Show  is one of the most popular Flower Shows in the world and frequently the tickets are sold out. The consequence of this popularity is that the site gets very crowded at peak times, if you would like a more leisurely walk around the Show Gardens  and Great Pavilion it is better to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon.  If you are there at peak times and wish to get away from the main sites, it may be an option to visit the Fresh and Artisan gardens which still offer plenty of interest.


The RHS Chelsea Flower Show offers a wide range of attractions including music in the bandstand area, there are also  plenty of food and drink options. On the Saturday of the show is the grand sell off when many of the plants and flowers are sold off at bargain prices.


Walking around the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the London highlights of the year, but it is well worth booking tickets well in advance if you are not a RHS member.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

To find out more about the event or to buy tickets to the show , visit the RHS website here

Show times

RHS Chelsea Flower Show (24 – 28 May 2016)

24 25 May      RHS members only

26 28 May      RHS members and non-members

24 27 May      8am – 8pm

28 May             8am 5.30pm (sell off starts at 4pm)

Venue: Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL

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