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A crowd of visitors in the Great Pavilion at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.
Photograph: Courtesy of RHS Chelsea Flower Show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show goes virtual for the first time ever

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The RHS Chelsea Flower Show – one of the biggest gardening events in the world – starts today (Monday May 18). But not as you know it. Unfortunately, the event so popular, you practically have to sell your granny to secure entry (even though she’s probably the one you wanted the ticket for) won’t be taking place in 2020. In March, the Royal Horticultural Society announced that it was cancelling the show for the first time since World War II. 

But there is some good news for gardeners. The RHS has organised a free virtual edition of the Chelsea Flower Show, which will fill the floral week between May 18 and 23 with private-garden tours and planting tips from ‘the great and the good of the gardening world’. Today kicks off with a preview of the Flower Show for RHS members, with the virtual event opening to the general public from tomorrow (Tuesday May 19). 

Visitors can take behind-the-scenes tours of award-winning nurseries and listen to planting advice from top garden designers. Some will be recreating the plant displays that never got the chance to appear at Chelsea Flower Show 2020. 

If you’ve suddenly got into growing and panic-ordered a load of compost, you can join a daily interactive lunchtime Q&A session for inspiration. And parents grappling with a homeschool schedule can take part in a daily School Gardening Club, which will focus on connecting kids with nature. 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is usually full of celebrities stopping to smell the roses (and pose for photo ops). The Queen attends most years. Although the virtual edition won’t be quite as spectacular, at least this way, everyone can (sort of) attend for free. 

The Virtual RHS Chelsea Flower Show will run from May 19-23 for the public (May 18 is a members and ‘press day’). For more info visit rhs.org.uk/Chelsea

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