Chelsea Flower Show: What Happens when the Crowds go Home

by Bethany Day on May 24, 2014

For one week in May, thousands of people flock to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to see some of the most beautiful flowers and garden designs in the world.

But what happens to all the flowers and displays once the final visitors have gone home? We take a look at some of the ways the exhibits live on after Chelsea.

Floral bargains up for grabs

At 4pm on the final day of Chelsea, it transforms from a flower show to a giant flower market, with some amazing floral bargains to be found. Almost everything is up for grabs, from the flowers themselves to the props used in the displays. Anything which cannot be bought will usually be clearly marked ‘Not for sale’.

To make sure you get your hands on some show-quality flowers make enquiries with exhibitors throughout the day, checking roughly how much your desired items will cost. But make sure you are positioned near them as the clock strikes four as it’s every man for themselves once the sale starts!

Even if you don’t want to buy anything yourself, watching people try to negotiate public transport while carrying a small tree or armful of shrubbery is certainly one of the most entertaining parts of the whole event.

And, if you aren’t attending on the final day of the show, never fear, some plants are returned to the nurseries which supplied them and they then hold their own Chelsea sales in the following weeks.

Gardens going under the hammer

Some of the more elaborate displays and gardens are auctioned at the end of the show rather than sold off, normally because they are simply too big for someone to carry home.

The cash from these auctions is often used to cover the cost of displaying at Chelsea or donated to charity, for example Herbert Smith’s show gardens are usually sold in aid of WaterAid.

The show must go on

While for many people, Chelsea is the horticultural highlight of the summer, there are a number of other exciting garden shows taking place in the coming months and exhibitors will be keeping elements of their gardens to showcase at these events.

Finding a new home

Many of the gardens displayed at Chelsea are simply re-housed after the show, either at the offices of their corporate sponsors or in public places where they can be enjoyed local communities.

Re-housing a garden can prove to be an expensive option though, with the cost of deconstructing a garden and putting it back together in another location adding up to around £50,000.

Recycle, recycle, recycle

As you can see, the vast majority of the flowers and gardens displayed at Chelsea go on to have a second lease of life when the show’s gates close.

And even those that don’t are put to good use, with an impressive 95% of the waste from Chelsea being recycled last year. Waste wood is sent to a heating and power plant, soil is used in land restoration projects and concrete is crushed and sent to building projects.

Exhibitors are required to submit details of where plants and building materials come from and how they plan to dispose of them following the show, with everyone encouraged to come up with a plan for life after Chelsea.

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Art and Horticulture meet at Chelsea Fringe

by Bethany Day on May 23, 2014

One of the exciting things about the Chelsea Fringe is when a modern art installation and horticulture come together and ‘Tiny Taxonomy’ in Belgrave Square, Belgravia is one of those great moments.

Taxonomy is the scientific term for the naming of plants and Canadian designer Rosetta Sarah Elkin has selected a cross section of miniature examples of different plant forms to create an installation in the very exclusive private garden in Belgrave square.

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A Passion for Peonies

by Bethany Day on May 22, 2014

Belgravia, London, is I’m pleased to say, not immune to joining in with the horticultural jamboree which is the Chelsea Fringe. The place to visit is Neill Strain’s Flower Lounge where for the previous fringe Neill put on a display of rarely seen tulips, this time it’s the turn of the fabulous peony.

Who can possibly resist the pull of the peony? Big and blowsy with taffeta heads resembling the most elaborate of ball gowns in a range of glorious colours, florists love them and brides love them to. The ones on show at the Flower Lounge are simply breath-taking, the perfect place to indulge in pure peony passion.

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Flower Choreography at Chelsea Fringe

by Bethany Day on May 22, 2014

A dance studio may not seem an obvious place to house a Chelsea Fringe exhibit, but the Siobhan Davies Dance Studio is as interested in contemporary art as it is in choreography  – and the two work together surprisingly well.

Landscape designer and sculptor Daniel Lobb has created two installations, both of which rely on interaction from visitors and staff.

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St. Pancras Station goes Green for Chelsea Fringe

by Bethany Day on May 21, 2014

Taking in London’s Chelsea Fringe is a fascinating journey around some unexpected places – how about a pop-up garden, inspired by the impressionist paintings of Monet and Renoir on the Grand Terrace of St. Pancras Station? Not to be missed! Although smaller than might be imagined, (not quite Kew Gardens transported to North London), it was a welcoming green sight in the red brick and metal surrounds of the station.

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Chelsea in Bloom in Pictures

by Bethany Day on May 20, 2014

Between Monday 19th and Saturday 24th May, some of London’s premier retailers will take place in the annual Chelsea in Bloom competition.

The competition, which is held in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, takes place during the week of the Chelsea Flower Show, and this years theme  ‘Creation in Colour- a journey through fashion, food and lifestyle’, has prompted some fantastic entries and truly spectacular floral displays. Read more >>

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Another Gold for Interflora at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

by Bethany Day on May 19, 2014

Interflora team at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014We are delighted to announce that our floral design exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been awarded a Gold medal. It is the fifth prestigious medal to be won by Interflora in as many years.

The floral design exhibit named ‘Succession’ was created by a team of five young florists aged from 21 to 27 years and has been awarded a Gold medal in recognition of the floral creativity and artistry displayed in its concept and construction.

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Interflora at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

by Bethany Day on May 17, 2014

We’re delighted to be back at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show with a beautiful exhibit that’s designed to wow the crowds.

‘Succession’ will consist of five wire canopy frames each individually designed and adorned with beautiful flowers falling in the colour palettes of pinks, oranges and yellows. Common features connect the frames giving the exhibit a clean, fresh and cohesive appearance.

The exhibit will be created by a team of five young florists aged from 21 to 27 years, who were all selected for their passion, floristry skills and expertise.

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Chelsea in Bloom

by Bethany Day on May 15, 2014

Rag and Bone Chelsea in Bloom 2013Between Monday 19th and Saturday 24th May, Chelsea in Bloom will transform the streets of London with breath taking floral displays.

The annual competition, which is held in association with the Royal Horticultural Society and takes place during the week of the Chelsea Flower Show, sees the area’s best retailers adorning their shop fronts with creative floral designs to compete for coveted awards.

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Planning a Visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

by Bethany Day on May 14, 2014

In May, tens of thousands of people will head to London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea for the famed RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The event is arguably the highlight of the horticultural calendar so, if you’re planning a visit, you’ll want to make the most of your day out. Here’s our guide to ensuring that your day at Chelsea goes without a hitch.

Travel plans

The RHS advise visitors to travel to the show via public transport. It’s good advice if you want to spend more time taking in the beautiful sights at the show and less time getting stuck in traffic. We recommend jumping on the tube and taking the District or Circle line to Sloane Square station. The showground is just a ten minute stroll away. It’s a pleasant walk, past some of the Royal Borough’s most exclusive and luxurious shops many of which will have transformed their windows for the annual Chelsea in Bloom festival – a great appetiser for the RHS show.  

If you’re coming from further afield, London Victoria is the closest train station to the show and there is also a shuttle bus from the station to the showground. If you really can’t leave the car at home, there is public parking at Battersea Park, but be warned it is first come first served and there are likely to be queues.

For further information on London underground travel, visit the Transport for London website.

Timing is everything

Doors to the flower show open promptly at 8am so if you want to beat the crowds and make the most of the day get there early.  We recommend picking up a catalogue at the entrance to help you navigate your way around the showground and locate exhibits on your must-see list. If you’re not sure what to see first, one top tip is to keep an eye on the weather forecast for the day. Make the most of sunny spells by visiting the impressive show gardens on the main avenue, then enjoy the floral delights of the Great Pavilion.

Dress to impress­­­­­­

There’s no dress code at Chelsea so feel free to wear whatever you are most comfortable in, but if you are having a special day out, it can be nice to get a bit dressed up. Smarter gents tend to wear blazers and light trousers, while many women opt for pretty summery dresses with a head-turning hat. As a British institution, Chelsea is also vulnerable to the Great British weather and downpours are common so make sure you have an umbrella or waterproof jacket with you. Comfortable shoes are a must too!

Take less, not more

A day out at Chelsea Flower Show means a long day on your feet. Lighten the load by taking only the essentials with you; a camera, your purse or wallet, a bottle of water and a notepad for taking down details of flowers and plants.  

Don’t forget your purse

There’s plenty to splash your cash on at Chelsea from flowers to glasses of Champagne, so if you want to treat yourself make sure you take some cash. Many of the stalls don’t take card payments and while there are a number of on-site cash machines these will charge for use and queues are likely to be big.

Pick up a picnic or treat yourself to lunch

There are plenty of places to grab a bit to eat at Chelsea, but if you are watching your pennies you may want to take a picnic. Providing the sun is shining, there are lots of grassy banks and areas you can settle down on to enjoy a well-earned break and re-fuel for the afternoon without having to battle the queues at the on-site eateries. You can even throw in a bottle of bubbly to help create a party atmosphere! Our favourite picnic spot is on the Plateu in Ranelagh Gardens, where you can listen to live music from the bandstand. Heavenly!

Alternatively, there are a wide range of catering facilities is available at the show, offering everything from three-course meals to sandwiches and ‘posh’ fish and chips. The Rock Bank Restaurant is popular with regular visitors and offers a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can prebook a table or take your chances on the day.

For more details about the show, or for further help planning your visit, go to the RHS website.

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