Bringing together garden lovers from all walks of life, Chelsea Flower Show is a truly British institution – and with the Brazilian Olympics the theme of this year’s Chelsea in Bloom, expect a Technicolor explosion on the streets of London
With less than a month away, I thought I would cast my mind ahead to what, in my opinion, is the greatest show of them all – the Chelsea Flower Show (from 24-28 May). Everyone will be there, from the Queen and members of the Royal Family, down to the good folk of the British Isles, who make the pilgrimage every year to their version of Mecca. And I think that is the charm of this particular show – that it brings together people from all walks of life, who share a passion for the garden, plants and Nature. It’s a truly British institution.
The culmination of all this passion is, of course, the parade of plants and bushes at the end of the week, staggering down the streets of Chelsea as if they’ve sprouted legs; buses and taxis crammed with flora and fauna like a scene from The Day of the Triffids. It is the ultimate expression of English eccentricity: the sheer willpower needed to overcome all odds to return home triumphant with your trophy plant.
A slightly overlooked aspect to this national treasure is the competition organised by Cadogan Estates, which owns a lot of the land around Chelsea and Sloane Square. Ten years ago it launched the Chelsea in Bloom competition to raise awareness of their retail tenants by asking them to dress their store fronts with flowers and plants according to a theme. The winners get publicity and a prize but the main advantage for everyone is that the whole area becomes a draw for the curious residents, tourists and visitors, as well as anyone else who happens to be passing through.
And what a sight to behold! The shop fronts literally come to life, ablaze with colour as flowers and plants make a takeover bid. We have been involved with the Chelsea in Bloom competition for the past three years on behalf of companies such as Montblanc, Links the Jewellers and, this year, the Sloane Square Hotel, La Perla and M Restaurant (which, strictly speaking, is outside the area to qualify for the competition but wants to participate anyway). The theme this year is ‘Carnivale’ and the Brazilian Olympics. I am not able to share our designs yet but, rest assured, Chelsea will burst into brilliant Technicolor during the week. I can’t wait! Among the prizes is the People’s Award, where the public can vote for their favourite displays, so please go and have a look and cast your vote – it is all part of the fun.
As a floral designer, I am glad to see that flowers must be the main material used to create the displays and that the rules forbid the use of sprays or other substances to modify them or dramatically alter them. I also appreciate this opportunity for floral designers to showcase their work and receive some much-needed attention.
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