The World’s Most Famous Flower Show
In a gardening-mad nation, the grand event of the season is this Olympics of gardening, a monumental four-day horticultural orgy. One enormous pageant of flowers is displayed with painstaking drama and imaginative precision by 700 juried exhibitors. The cream of British and international horticulturalists, they fill the 11 acres of the Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital grounds, 3.5 acres under state-of-the-art twin “marquee” tents. It is a quintessentially British celebration of gardening but with a natural appeal (and great people-watching opportunities) that easily reaches beyond obsessive gardeners to the steadfast non gardening public that doesn’t know a dandelion from a magnolia.
Existing in some form since 1827, it is a premier event organized by the Royal Horticultural Society and sets the global standard (the society also organizes the largest annual flower show in the world at Hampton Court, as well as the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park in Cheshire). Tickets to Chelsea are restricted to 160,000 over the four-day period, with the first two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) reserved for RHS members only.
Though many believe people-watching is best on public days (Thursday and Friday), the true gardener will want to see the exhibitions at their perky best before they wilt from the adoring gaze and scrutiny of so many fans. If you miss the Chelsea Flower Show, don’t miss London’s Royal Botanic Gardens (a.k.a. Kew Gardens), the world’s most famous gardens. They will take your breath away.