I have been a WU member since September 2005. Now a retired teacher, enjoying my garden, writing, sketching, taking photos, and having great fun!
By: sandiquiz, 5:04 PM GMT on May 20, 2014
Today - May the 20th, is the first open day of the 101st Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show.
First held in May 1913, on the grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital in London, now the home of the famous Chelsea Pensioners, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become one of the most famous annual garden shows, attracting visitors and exhibitors from all around the world.
Each year in the middle of April, the grounds of the Hospital turn from acres of lawns into many small and large gardens, and several huge marques seem to spring up overnight.
This is the area, eleven acres in total, of the Chelsea hospital that turns into a famous Flower Show for seven weeks of each year.
Chelsea show begins with garden designers approaching the RHS council with their suggested designs for a garden to be entered in the following year's show. Many are rejected, but for those who are lucky, it is the start of a whole year of hard work, worrying about the plants, the weather and sourcing items for their display or garden from all over the world.
Once the countdown to the show begins, before any plant is positioned in the soil, the hard landscaping has to be completed.
The idea for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show began in 1912 when Sir Harry Veitch, looking for a place to hold the Temple Flower Show managed to secure the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. It proved to be such a good venue that the Spring Flower festival, normally held in Kensington was moved there in 1913 and became known as the Chelsea Flower show.
In 1915, with England at war, it was nearly called off, but went ahead in 1915 and 1916, only being cancelled in 1917-18, as many of the horticultural producers had gone to Europe to fight.
By the middle to the 1920s, it had become 'The place to be in May', and drew in many exhibiters and spectators from around the country.
In 1928, a torrential hailstorm on the eve of opening day caused the marquees to be flooded. By the next morning, the show opened with no sign of the previous night’s torrential storm, after staff and exhibitors worked through the night to clear debris and repair damage.
The temperamental British weather never stops the exhibitors from putting on the greatest garden show in the world!
The grounds of the Royal Hospital were commandeered by the government in early 1946 as an anti-aircraft gun emplacement, so the show was cancelled for the duration of the Second World War.
Once the war was over the RHS Council felt strongly that the show should resume as soon as possible, so in 1947 the show went ahead, with competitors from many areas of the world, including Europe!
It has always been a Royal Show, with the Royal family visiting the displays each year. The present queen loves to go, having a very knowledgeable interest in gardens and plants.
The Chelsea Pensioners, in their very bright red uniforms, love to visit the show, and as it is in their grounds, they are allowed to wander around freely, often being photographed admiring the displays, or even as part of it, as they were in 2012 when Diarmuid Gavin, the Irish gardener, built a pyramid garden over 75 feet high, and installed a lift so that the pensioners could get to all levels for a photo-shoot!
Today, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is still viewed as the most important event in the horticultural calendar and is as popular as ever.
It has grown from 244 exhibitors in 1913 to over 500 today and this year will attract 160,000 visitors from across the globe over its five days.
• It takes 800 people 33 days to build the show.
• It takes three weeks to build a show garden and 10 days for a cottage garden. They all have to come apart in just five days.
• There are about 160,000 visitors each year, capped at number this since 1988, hence the tickets sell out extremely quickly!
• Each visitor spends an average of five hours at the event.
• Last year on opening day, visitors consumed 5,567 glasses of champagne, 12,120 sandwiches and baguettes, 24,191 cakes and pastries and 35,900 cups of tea.
Each day, I will post a link to something in the news from the show....
Today, on Press day, and the Royal visitor day, the Queen and Princess Beatrice visited THE TRENCHES... a garden laid out to commemorate the 100th year since the beginning of World War 1 .
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