Soak up the atmosphere of the first autumnal RHS Chelsea

World-class design and expert growers returned to the showground in 2021 for a unique event

For the first time in our history, RHS Chelsea was held in September providing a unique opportunity for visitors to savour.

Gardens and exhibits were filled with the glories of autumn, with asters, dahlias and salvias in full bloom, trees laden with fruit, and even plump pumpkins adorning displays.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was grasped by all and provided a unique show to remember.


Promoting sustainability was a key theme of the show with two Feature Gardens putting the subject at the heart of their designs.

At the centre of the showground was the RHS Queen’s Green Canopy Garden, commissioned as part of a global project to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

A lush, towering green and purple woodland made up of 21 trees, including multi-stemmed Swedish birch, hornbeam and beech, stood amid a carpet of grassland and colourful wildflowers, and provided an ideal habitat for wildlife. 

More than 3,500 plants featured in this space, with splashes of colour from Anemone x hybrida ‘September Charm’, box ball hedges left unclipped to reduce the possibility of blight and striking Saxifraga ‘Kinki Purple’ to provide ground cover.

Three hay bale sculptures dotted around the garden evoked thoughts of the countryside and the partnership that exists between nature and agriculture. 

Also highlighting the importance of sustainability was the RHS COP26 Garden, inspired by the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties hosted by the UK in Glasgow in 2021.

This huge space provided a visual representation of the way in which the climate crisis is affecting our gardens, while also illustrating helpful actions easily replicated by visitors.

Guests were invited on a journey through four distinct, themed quarters; Decline, Adaptation, Mitigation and Balance all centred around the Universal Window Box which offered easy take-home tips.

Show-stopping designs

On Main Avenue, the breathtakingly beautiful Show Gardens kept their usual world-class standard of design with four of the six gardens awarded Gold medals.

The calming Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden, which elegantly combined three distinct zones, brought home the Best Show Garden award for designers Peter Chmiel and Chin-Jung Chen.

Gardens that will live on after the show include The M&G Garden, which will become a pocket park, and the Florence Nightingale Garden which is to relocate to St Thomas' Hospital in Westminster.

Smaller gardens

There was beauty on a smaller scale in the Artisan and Sanctuary Gardens.

Guests could escape to foreign lands in the Finnish Soul Garden – A Nordic Heritage Seaside Garden and the Calm of Bangkok, both Silver-Gilt, or soak up the atmosphere of the Dartmoor-inspired Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden, which was handed a Gold medal and Best Sanctuary Garden for the multi-award winning designer Sarah Eberle.

Two new garden categories made their debut at RHS Chelsea, highlighting the importance of gardening in small spaces and bursting with ideas for every gardener. The Container and Balcony Garden categories also celebrated designers who had not exhibited at the show before. 

Away from the gardens, the growing popularity of houseplants was reflected in another new feature at RHS Chelsea.

The six House Plant Studios in Ranelagh Gardens provided inspiration for every room in the home, no matter its size.

Houseplants also featured in the Discovery zone in the Great Pavilion where all the latest horticultural science was on display in a number of fascinating exhibits.

Inside the Great Pavilion

The Great Pavilion was again filled with some of the world’s greatest nurseries creating eye-catching displays.

Exhibitors new to RHS Chelsea included Green Jjam Nurseries with a display of penstemons, Ashcroft’s Perennials and Ornamental Grasses exhibiting grasses and Sienna Hosta with a diverse collection of hostas.

All three took home Gold medals on debut.



At the heart of the Great Pavilion was a late summer Italianate market scene, designed by Villaggio Verde. It featured an historic Italian Piazza with a facade of pillars and arches, surrounded by atmospheric gnarled olive trees and cypress.

Vintage market carts set the scene and overflowed with plentiful seasonal plants and produce from specialist growers, transporting visitors to an Italian harvest celebration. 

Floral decorations

Around the showground, visitors could take in the gorgeous RHS letters, designed by Larry Walshe and capitalising on the change in season.

Wild and dried blooms and grasses depicted the seasonal change in our countryside, and broke free of the confines of the letters.

JamJar Flowers also celebrated the time of year with its Bull Ring Gate decoration, inspired by British hedgerows, while London Gate, decorated by Tattie Rose Flowers, was an explosion of seasonal colour.

Explore the 2021 show

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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.