Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right Seven floral facts about the Chelsea Flower Show

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

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.

AT_chelseaflowershow_CREDIT_James Dillon.jpg
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.

Great Pavilion 18.JPG

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.

AT_atown_CREDIT_Jon Enoch.jpg
© 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.


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.

602. CFS - The Cancer Research UK Garden.JPG

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.

Find more fun things to this summer

17 must-do things in London this summer

Things to do

London during the summer is the best place on earth. Fact. From new art blockbusters and fresh faces in the West End, to London music festivals and a beachload of fun things to do, here’s 17 events you don't want to miss this summer. Ice creams not included.


    You may also like

      Support Time Out

      We see you’re using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue is Time Out’s main source of income. The content you’re reading is made by independent, expert local journalists.

      Support Time Out directly today and help us champion the people and places which make the city tick. Cheers!

      Donate now