The world’s greatest gardening event will commemorate the life of the late Queen, who rarely missed her annual visit to RHS Chelsea during her 70-year reign, while also looking forward to the coronation of King Charles III.
Enclosed by hedging to create a space for contemplation, designer Dave Green’s ‘A Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration’ features a plant palette of light pinks and whites such as rose ‘Olivia Austin’ and silver birch to reflect the late monarch’s tastes. Blues, purples and pinks such as magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’, clematis ‘The Duchess of Cornwall’, lupins and geraniums, represent the King’s preferences according to Sandringham’s Head Gardener, Jack Lingfield.
Drifts of Camassia
, reminiscent of the meadows in front of Highgrove House, will also feature in the RHS Garden, along with a bronze statue of the King and several woodland trees. Plants are being provided by some of the UK’s top specialist plant growers, including Raymond Evison, Hare Spring Cottage Plants, and David Austin, who Queen Elizabeth II knew personally from her visits to RHS Chelsea.
In the Great Pavilion, Agrumi Topiary Art have created a topiary display depicting ‘Emma’, the fell pony who stood to attention along the drive of Windsor castle to pay her respects as the Queen’s cortege passed on the day of the funeral.
Harkness Roses are creating a display inspired by the British flag to acknowledge the King’s Coronation, and Ottershaw Cacti are launching the new Aeonium
‘Coronation’, a fleshy-leafed succulent.
Helena Pettit, RHS Director of Shows and Gardens, said: “Whilst there will be joyful celebration around the King’s Coronation at RHS Chelsea this year, the absence of our late Queen on the afternoon before we open will be profoundly felt by many.
“Her annual visit would lift the whole showground, so I hope our royal tributes will help keep those happy memories alive.”
Other themes at the show include edible plants, a popular choice for designers this year. The School Food Matters Garden features 80 per cent edible plants, and the Savills Garden showcases plot-to-plate recipes.
A clear shift towards drought-resistant plants is evident throughout the show, with more than half the perennials in the Show Garden category being heat resilient such as the milky, thick-stemmed Euphorbia
, a tall grass, compared with under a third last year.
Naturalistic planting returns as a horticultural theme, with nettles, red campion, daisies and bindweed featuring in the Royal Entomological Society Garden and thistles and brambles in the Fauna & Flora Garden.
The Newt in Somerset will bring the 'Beezantium', an exhibit in the form of a scaled-up hive, offering a fascinating insight into the life of a bee and the role it plays in flourishing ecosystems.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by the Newt in Somerset, runs from 22 to 27 May. Tickets, including for RHS Chelsea Late, are currently available here: www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea