RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibitors looking forward to a September event

For the first time in its 108-year history, the greatest flower show on earth will be held in autumn

Nurseries and garden designers have said they are relishing the unique opportunity to exhibit their work at a one-off autumnal RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

For the first time in its 108-year history, the show will be held on 21 – 26 September rather than its usual May slot because of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of those working in the horticultural world welcomed the decision to move the world’s greatest flower show to a later date.

Helena Pettit, RHS Director Gardens and Shows said: “Following the announcement we have been busy liaising with our show exhibitors and other stakeholders to see who is able to commit to the new autumn date and have been delighted by the initial response and willingness of those within the industry, ready and willing to rise to the challenge and adapt their plans to be part of the historic show.

“It was a difficult decision to make but the positive reaction we have had by so many has demonstrated that it was the right decision to make, we are lucky to work within such a supportive industry and want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is working to ensure the world’s most famous flower show can return this autumn.  We look forward to sharing more details soon.” 

The change in season for the show will alter the look and feel of many of our exhibits, with designers adapting their plans for the time of year.

Sarah Eberle is one of the most decorated female RHS Chelsea designers and won gold for her Resilience Garden, above, at the show in 2019. She is hoping to bring The Bible Society: Psalm 23 Garden originally planned for the May show to the upcoming 2021 event. 

“The later show dates give us the rare opportunity to work with plants for a different season. This will be a historic event for many reasons and that is something to celebrate.

“September is my favourite month and it has a rich tapestry of plant interest. September light is also very special and I think will make the gardens memorable. I am lucky, as the plants within The Bible Society: Psalm 23 Garden will probably look even better in September, I will of course have to change some flower accents but little else.

“There is such an appetite for gardens and nature at the moment and we will all want to celebrate this at RHS Chelsea.”

Robert Myers, designer of The Florence Nightingale Garden; A Celebration of Modern Day Nursing, said he will need to work with his suppliers to adapt his design for the later timing of the show. But he said he was looking forward to seeing what the specialist growers will bring to the event.

“I’m also itching to see how my fellow designers will make use of the autumn plant palette in their show gardens. It is really exciting to be part of what is likely to be a rather unique and memorable ‘autumn Chelsea’ in the Show’s history. The whole atmosphere will be different, and I am thrilled that we’ll be contributing to that.”

Rob Evans, from Pheasant Acre Plants, welcomed the change and said the timing was the perfect opportunity to show off dahlias and gladioli during their natural flowering period.

Winner of 30 RHS Chelsea gold medals Raymond Evison, pictured, from Raymond Evison Clematis is also excited by the chance to show off his plants at a different time of year.

“I won one of my first RHS Gold medals for an exhibit of clematis cultivars at the old Great Autumn Flower Show on 23 September 1969.

“It was a great event for everyone and showed people a different range of plants that were either autumn flowering or had amazing autumn coloured foliage – so this year’s RHS Chelsea will be rather nostalgic.”

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.