Thursday 19 May, 2016

The Fashion Week of Foliage, the Super Bowl of Botany

There’s excitement (and pollen) in the air for the Chelsea Flower Show! Every spring, the grass grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are taken over by color and design with garden exhibits so elaborate that they’ll make your head spin. I’ll attempt to explain the event by telling you to picture a floral version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, mixed with Narnia, and a dash of pretty much any fairytale you can think of. Even if that gives you a clear idea, spending a few minutes with “Chelsea Flower Show” in your Google Images search bar would be well worth the time!

Formally known as the Royal Horticultural Society Great Spring Show (we’ll stick to Chelsea Flower Show, for obvious reasons), the event was first held in 1862 in Kensington. The Chelsea Flower Show has found a new home and grown immensely in the years since. The five day event, beginning on May 23rd, will feature over 100 exhibits and attract more than 150,000 guests from all over the world – not including the lost and confused soccer fans.

Japanese Moss Garden- Chelsea Flower Show

Competing gardeners can enter to win awards in categories for flowers, trees, vegetables, botanical art, or educational displays. Beyond the contending exhibits, the Chelsea Flower Show also features several “headliners” each year, who are commissioned to design the arrangements that take the spotlight. Here’s a look at 2016’s incredible line up:

Rosa – Joseph Massie

This installation was created to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, a patron of the event. The design will form a tunnel, lined top to bottom with roses. As people walk through the pathway, they will be completely surrounded by roses, with some even dangling from the ceiling.

Interested in touring the city that is home to these gorgeous garden grounds? Plan an educational tour to London!

Tower of London Poppies – Philip Johnson

The red poppy World War II memorial that first appeared on the Tower of London grounds is being relocated for the Chelsea Flower Show. The sea of red formed by the 5,000 hand-knitted poppies communicates the widespread tragedy of the war while individualizing the lives affected.

Health, Happiness, and Horticulture – Ann-Marie Powell

Powell designed this garden with the intent of raising awareness on the positive effects that gardening has on mental health and happiness. “Gardens and gardening do more good to heart and soul than they are ever given credit for and I’m delighted to be helping the RHS shout about this at a world-famous flower show,” said designer, Ann-Marie Powell.

Modern Apothecary Garden – Jekka McVicar

This botanical exhibit was inspired by the quote from Greek philosopher Hippocrates: “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Featuring dozens of edible plants, McVicar’s display is all about using natural foods as a way to improve your health.

Photo Credit: JR P and Karen Roe