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Seven floral facts about the Chelsea Flower Show

The always bonkers Chelsea Flower Show comes into bloom this week. Here are seven facts to prune you into the biggest flower fan yet

By Things To Do Editors
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The Chelsea Flower Show is much more than a bunch of roses and a bunch of wacky gardeners. It started way back in 1820 (when succulents definitely weren't on trend). Since then, the show has blossomed into one of the world's biggest celebrations of horticulture and flower art and has become one of the most popular annual London events in May (this year it’s on May 24-28). It's a feast for the eyes and the nose (that is, for anyone who doesn't suffer from a pollen allergy). Here are seven facts to get you bloomin' excited about all things floral.

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James Dillon

1. It's not as simple as potting a few plants

Setting up the Flower Show takes 800 people 33 days over nearly three acres – the Pavilion's big enough to park 500 buses in. Though it'd be a pretty fancy bus depot.

2. You can see some right royal bloomers

This year's festival is all about HM's ninetieth. Big features include cladding the Thameside gate of the Royal Chelsea Hospital with British blooms and a 25-ton cube of granite.

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3. It's basically a massive piss up

Walking around gardens is thirsty work. Visitors to the 2015 show polished off 7,720 glasses of Pimms and 10,823 glasses of champagne while attempting not to fall into flowerbeds.

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© John Enoch

4. There could be chickpeas amongst the flowerbeds

This is probably old news to you, but 2016 is the UN's International Year of the Pulse. To celebrate, Chelsea has a 'Beans, Beans, Beans' garden to highlight the importance of legumes.

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5. You can do some serious celeb spotting

Every year, new varieties pay homage to the nation's favourite celebs. This year? 'Mary Berry' and 'Roald Dahl' roses, as well as a 'Princess Charlotte' chrysanthemum. Sorry, Kanye - maybe next year?

© RHS Chelsea Flower Show.jpg
© RHS Chelsea Flower Show

6. It's a proper English institution

The show started in 1820, pausing only for the 1926 General Strike and World War II, when the Royal Chelsea Hospital was used as an anti-aircraft site. Recent history is less remarkable: the ban on garden gnomes was lifted in 2013.

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7. Things go wrong when you make shrubbery sexy

Worst idea for a garden? Probably Paul Cooper's 'Cool and Sexy' garden in 1994. Its main feature was an air vent that blew gusts of air up visitors' skirts. So, not cool, sexy, big or clever.

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