Chelsea Flower Show returns with debut autumn showcase

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show is under way with a one-off autumn version of the world-famous event after it was postponed in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Royal family members and celebrities will visit the show on Monday before it opens to the public on Tuesday.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) decided to delay this year’s show because of the pandemic. It was cancelled last year and taken online during the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown.

Dahlias, asters and pumpkins give the event a whole new look, along with trees full of fruit and berries and autumn bulbs such as nerines.

The RHS said the event will have a similar feel to the spring show, with show gardens and plant displays, but will feature new nurseries exhibiting seasonal blooms such as camellias.

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said the charity was keen to promote autumn gardening before it reverts back to a May date in 2022.

On Monday members of the royal family will visit the show, including the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra.

They will visit the RHS Queen’s Green Canopy Garden, the show’s largest plot, which highlights the vital importance of trees and woodlands and features 21 trees and more than 3,500 plants.

It is part of an effort to promote the Queen’s Green Canopy project, which is aimed at encouraging people to plant trees for the monarch’s platinum jubilee in 2022, starting from the beginning of tree-planting season in October.

They will also visit the Guide Dogs’ 90th anniversary garden, which features seed heads this year.

An organic show garden by Yeo Valley, which encourages people to put nature first, had to be redesigned when the show was moved with late summer planting.

Designer Tom Massey said: “We want to create a beautiful garden that inspires visitors to think about using more sustainable gardening practices.

“September is one of the most wonderful times of year in the garden and so it is extra special to be part of the first, and most likely only, Chelsea in September.”

The Florence Nightingale Garden, designed to mark the bicentenary of the birth of the famous nurse, celebrates the importance of the nursing profession in the 21st century and will be relocated to St Thomas’ Hospital in London in 2022.

In the show’s great pavilion there is a piazza featuring fruit and vegetables such as pumpkins to highlight the harvest season, as well as a two-metre high wall of clay bee hives with pollinator-friendly planting.

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