The iconic Chelsea Flower show at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London, is a wonderful day out. Breathtaking gardens and floral displays, rare and exotic plants, artwork, sculpture and garden features are displayed in a dizzying array of colour and light.
Whether you are an avid gardener or not, you cannot help but be impressed by the beautiful show gardens, like the Boodles Travel Garden above. Garden designers and florists compete for the coveted Chelsea Flower Show awards, and corporations sponsor designers and gardens to create publicity. Charities use their gardens as an opportunity to increase public awareness of their causes.
Chelsea also celebrates special occasions, like The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.
The Royal Family and The Chelsea Flower Show
Royalty has a long association with the Chelsea Flower Show, hosted by The Royal Horticultural Society. HM The Queen traditionally attends on the first day every year. This is the day when Chelsea is open only to invited guests and the press. There was some doubt as to whether The Queen would attend this year in view of the curtailment of some of her official engagements. However, it is perhaps a testament to how much she enjoys this event that The Queen was in attendance. She was accompanied by other members of the Royal Family including the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princess Beatrice.
Other members of the Royal family may also attend throughout the show, sometimes to witness the unveiling of a rose, orchid or exotic plant named in their honour.
People Watching at The Chelsea Flower Show
As one of the highlights of the iconic London ‘season’, The Chelsea Flower Show is a great place to people watch. Famous faces are tucked in amongst the crowd and you may stumble across well-known television presenters hard at work. The glitterati teeter along in high fashion and heels. Shepherded on private tours by garden designers, they appear behind the ropes in the beautiful gardens, a glass of champagne in hand.
What to Wear at The Chelsea Flower Show
Seasoned veterans of Chelsea dress for comfort in light layers. This may include a summer dress and a light sweater or shawl, or linen trousers, blouse and a jacket and flat shoes. Men often wear chinos, a shirt and blazer, although there are some suits and ties. The Chelsea Flower Show covers a huge area and the British weather can be very unpredictable so layers are advisable.
This year a pretty summer dresses with a denim jacket and white fashion trainers seemed almost like a uniform for many of the ladies. I noticed because this ensemble was along the same lines as my attire – an Agnés B summer dress, Louis Vuitton denim jacket and Veja trainers (running shoes). Some people do get quite dressed up and there are a few hats, although they are not required or expected.
The Best Time To Attend The Chelsea Flower Show
The show attracts in excess of 157,000 visitors annually so it gets very crowded. I recommend you either attend early or later in the afternoon as these times are sometimes less busy. Evening tickets are also available, although it can get very busy then too.
Eating and Drinking at The Chelsea Flower Show
There is no shortage of places to eat and drink at the show, and more formal hospitality is also available. We were invited to the show this year by Brewin Dolphin and treated to a lovely champagne and canapé reception in their garden after the show closed for the evening.
Great Garden and Floral Inspiration
Chelsea offers something for everyone, from practical and aspirational garden inspiration to shopping, as well as fine dining and a chance to relax with a glass of champagne. Here are some photographs from 2022 – and there’s more here.
A visit to The Great Pavilion can provide you with everything you could possibly need to make your garden beautiful, as well as a chance to see some stunning floral artistry.
I loved this beautiful floral installation by Tracy Rowbottom Design. Imagine having an elegant afternoon tea sitting under that gorgeous, rose-laden chandelier!
The Show Gardens
Most show gardens are sponsored by large corporations or charities. The latter often use their show gardens to raise awareness and funds.
More than just a place to see and be seen, The Chelsea Flower Show is a celebration of a proud heritage of British horticulture and floristry. Whether you love to garden or not, it’s a wonderful day or evening out.
Attending the Chelsea Flower Show
This year, the Chelsea Flower Show runs from Tuesday May 24th to Saturday May 28th, 2022 in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London. Check the RHS website for ticket availability. During the show you can follow all the coverage on the RHS website and on BBC Television.
More Gardening Inspiration