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Worth a visit
Rating 0.5 (165 votes)

Chelsea Flower Show

Listed under Festivals in London, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
  • Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
Photo of Chelsea Flower Show
Photo by Donna Dawson
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The 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show was the 88th show to be held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital and the ‘RHS Chelsea Flower Show’ is the lasting title of an exhibition with a history of over 140 years. The first RHS Flower Show to be held in Chelsea was in 1913. Demand for tickets continues to grow and since visitor numbers have been capped since 1988 (at 157,000) it is necessary to book early. The show was originally called the Royal Horticultural Society's Great Spring Show, first held in 1862, at the RHS garden in Kensington. In 1888 when that garden was closed the RHS found itself without a site in central London at which to hold the show. It was then moved to Temple Gardens near the Embankment, where it was held under canvas until 1911.

In 1912, the Temple Show was cancelled to make way for the Royal International Horticultural Exhibition. Sir Harry Veitch, the great nurseryman, secured the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, for this one-off event. It proved such a good site for an exhibition that the Great Spring Show was moved there in 1913, where it has taken place almost every year since.

Over almost a century, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has witnessed numerous changes in horticultural fashion. Show gardens, over the years, have mirrored the changing enthusiasms of garden designers - from the Japanese and topiary gardens of the early days (Japanese dwarf trees, now known as bonsai, were seen at the first Show in 1913), through the rock garden craze during the war years, the paved back yards and cottage gardens of the 1980s, to the contemporary sculptural gardens of the present day.

At the heart of Chelsea is the exhibition of plants staged in the Great Pavilion by nurserymen and women, professionals and amateurs - although the number of amateurs represented today is proportionately much smaller than in the early years. Scientific exhibits, model glasshouses and displays of tools and equipment have remained constant features from the outset.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is still viewed as the most important event in the horticultural calendar and is as popular as ever. With enormous media attention and exhibitor waiting lists longer than ever, there seems no sign of this appetite abating. The new trends constantly appearing at the show illustrate the changing face of garden design and mark this country’s ever-changing horticultural history. A new professional floristry competition was launched at the show in association with the British Florist Association in 2009.

As a side note, as you can appreciate, I have taken thousands of pictures over the years of the gardens that we are see while on the Chelsea tour or others. I invite you to visit our Pix area on and go through the years and the progression of the gardens since 1998 when I first starting doing the Chelsea Flower Show… On you can also see the comments we have received on our tours. I was again very privileged to be able to attend Press Day at Chelsea. What I love about this day is that crowds are minimal, affording you the opportunity to wander and really see the gardens and displays. Thailand and Malaysia were new country entries this year and packed a punch!

Written by  Donna Dawson.

Other expert and press reviews

“Chelsea Flower Show 2009: Brompton Borders and Sloane in Bloom events”

First Published May 13, 2009 Brompton Borders This garden-focused festival (May 16-25), in the newly christened Brompton Design District, is a cross-fertilisation of gardening, art and design. These special events look intriguing: May 16-25, Garden Sk… Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I also question why your reviewer has only given this event a one out of five?

2 Replies

Hi Clover, If I had my druthers, I would rate all I visit and review and five out of five, but I don't rate any of them...I think that is for others to do. I just visit and review them :) and give you my feelings in the review. Chelsea is more than a five out of five!!


There's no negative scores - only great experiences are featured, and five out of five is reserved for life changing experiences. Though the Chelsea Flower Show could be quite life changing of course...

More than just a flower show

The Royal Horticultural Society runs this floral festival for five days every May, and has done ever since 1913 when it was first held as a one-off event. Much more than just a vast flower show, it is an event at which English society sees and is seen, and attendees (including royals and celebrities) as well as show gardens are dressed in the height of fashion. Tickets sell out almost instantly, and are destined for many purposes other than as delightful gifts for people’s mothers. Expert horticulturalists from across the globe come here to sell, buy, admire, learn and even launch new species and there are plenty of specimens available for purchase. Garden design and equipment shops, gardening courses, art classes and exhibitions pack the 11-acre site wherever the show gardens do not monopolise the space, and these can be space-age, traditional cottage-style and compact city gardens to name a few.

Five out of Five please!

This is the easiest way to see the best in gardening talent from all over the world all in the one place. Miniature gardens from some of the best known botanical gardens as well as individual gardening celebrities are entered, the task being to create a mini masterpiece on a theme. I am surprised your reviewer only gave it one out of five, this is one of the most important events on a gardeners calender and I quibble with your suggestion that only the well to do attend, it is also a place for landscapers and landscape architects and people with green fingers who may not be able to afford to travel all over the world to see the best gardens and can, for this magic period, see them all alongside each other. Unusual plants, good varieties and really creative use of the space makes this an inspirational event for anyone interested in gardening. Five out of Five please!

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