Chelsea Flower Show: What Happens when the Crowds go Home

by Bethany Day on May 24, 2014

Between May 19th and 24th, 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.

Last year, Stoke-on-Trent’s garden was auctioned off with the money raised paying for the garden itself and any profits going to the city’s ceramics fund. It is thought that the plants and grasses featured in the garden alone sold for as much as £15,000.

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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Bethany Day

Blogger and online PR guru for Interflora UK. Interested in guest-posting on our blog? Email blog@interflora.co.uk or connect with me.

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Post category: RHS Chelsea Flower Show  

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