The RHS flower show at Chelsea is the go-to event for garden inspiration and ideas. Thousands of garden lovers head to the show to sample the latest in cutting edge garden design, and this year I was lucky enough to join them. After all, I am in that stage of life where I love a day out. Actually, scrap that, I’ve always loved a day trip. What’s not to love?
I hadn’t been to the RHS Flower Show at Chelsea before, but I’ve always really enjoyed the television coverage in recent years. I had a lovely day, and left feeling so inspired an with a plant wish list as long as my arm. Highlights included David Austin’s new addition, ‘Roald Dahl’ (on my wish list), as well as The Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which I found incredibly moving. Do I plan to go again? Hell, yes! But next time, I will be using my top five RHS flower show tips, to make the most of my visit.
Browse the shopping areas and pavilion first.
The shopping areas at Chelsea were a delight, many of my favourite brands including Hiho Silver , had retail stands and it was so lovely to browse all sorts of products for the home, garden and lifestyle. As much as I love indulging in retail therapy, the brands that were at the show offered so much more. Many of the companies had gone to great efforts to design their stands as almost retail exhibitions. Hiho Silver’s stand was particularly beautiful, adorned with country garden plants and branches, with stunning sculpted magpies from artist Belinda Sillars, that were positioned around the displays. It was a joy to browse around each retail area, especially at the start of the day, as most visitors flocked to the show gardens, leaving the shopping areas relatively crowd free.
Take a picnic
There were so many food areas and a good selection of dishes were available and because of the plentiful providers, queues were not too long at all. Yet, as I wondered around the RHS flower show, so many visitors had chosen to pack beautiful picnics, loaded with freshly made sandwiches, macarons and bottles of wine. They found perfect picnic spots around the event, relaxing on blankets as they nibbled and sipped, taking in the atmosphere, entertainment and exhibitions all around them. This is definitely what I would love to do next time. A picnic always makes a real special event of something already super exciting.
Head to the Show gardens towards the end of the day
I am aware that I attended the RHS show on its busiest day and I did expect it to be very busy, but I don’t mind crowds so much. I just wander about at my own pace. After a quick drink and a bite to eat. My friend, Ceri, and I headed straight to the show gardens to explore the beautiful displays and they were incredibly popular. There were crowds around each garden and it took a lot of patience and well-mannered manoeuvring to get a good view or camera angle. Yet, by 2.30pm, when we realised we hadn’t seen them all, and headed back round to catch the missed ones, the gardens were far less busy. Lots of space and great views of each exhibition were a good hint that many must head straight to the show gardens, before heading to the retail spot later in the day, probably so that they didn’t have to carry their purchases around with them. It’s useful to point out that there is a cloakroom for stashing belongings and if you don’t fancy using the service, many sensibly opted for a wheeled shopping trolley of some form to do the carrying for them. So my advice is to visit the retail areas first, then tour the show gardens to ensure a crowd free visit, even on the busiest days.
Book for the Saturday
I know it’s the busiest day. But seriously, I had no idea that at 4pm something magical happens on the last day. I had noticed many visitors had fold-able wheeled trolleys with them and as I’m an accepting kind of a woman, I didn’t really think too much of it. But, when 4pm ticked along and a bell rang out, it all clicked into place. For those of you, who have not been; in the last hour, on the last day, most of the exhibition stands and gardens, dig up, pot up and sell off the plants and flowers and bargain prices. Those fold up trolleys finally made sense. Some of the retailers offer clearance prices in the last few hours too. Which leads me nicely onto the final tip for making the most of your next visit to a RHS flower show…
Take fold-able wheeled bags and trolleys.
Those fold-able and wheeled bags and trolleys are just what so many of my fellow visitors used to transport their flower show haul home. You might think that it was just local folk that stocked themselves up with plants and trees (Yes, trees). Oh no! The tube and train home to the midlands became their own little floral installations as visitors from far and wide across the UK headed home with their leafy bargains. So next year, I will absolutely be following the petal sprinkled pavements of London to the train with my own plant purchases.
So, I hope you will be joining me for the 2017 RHS flower show at Chelsea in following my top five tips to make the most of your visit. Is there anything you would add on, if you have been before?