The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is one of the highlights of early summer. Enjoy plant-packed pavilions, spectacular floral displays, cutting-edge garden designs from around the world, and A-list attendees, including the Queen who tends to make an appearance on the morning of the first day. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a quintessentially British day out and pick up some green-fingered tips along the way.
Tony Woods, Founder at award-winning garden design company Garden Club London based at Workspace's Vox Studios, shares his top suggestions for first-time goers looking to get inspired.
What's the best ticket to go for?
TW: "It depends. The tickets are sold as all-day, half a day, or an evening ticket but you would have to be pretty hardened to do all day! There's a lot packed into a relatively small site and it can be quite tiring seeing everything. If it's your first time going, it's really amazing and something you'll remember for the rest of your life, but be prepared to do a lot of walking if you go for the full day."
How is the show laid out?
TW: "You have the main avenue which is millionaires' row if you like and these are awe-inspiring displays. All sorts of things take place here and this is where you'll find the main show gardens. These are the biggest and most expensive, glamorous gardens. The budgets for those gardens can reach around half a million pounds and people fly from all over the world to exhibit there including Japan, Australia and China."
What are the key highlights to make a beeline for this year?
TW: "This year, a ‘Welcome To Yorkshire’ garden is being built on the main avenue and it's going to be spectacular, replicating a whole section of Yorkshire plot. The idea behind it is to very authentically take a slice of Yorkshire and bring it to Chelsea. Every little detail has been considered – even down to the moss!
Also, be sure to check out M&G Investments' garden. They have sponsored the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the past decade and this year they are creating a fantastic horticultural display set to inspire."
What do you need to bring on the day?
"The majority of the show is outside, so make sure you bring something to keep the sun off you. Take water, for sure. Some people like to dress up a bit but it's a good idea to wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in."
Is there food and drink on site?
TW: "Yes, there is a 3-acre tent selling all sorts of amazing food. You can get anything from vegan wraps to pulled pork burgers. There is always a lot of champagne flowing too, of course."
Any top tips for first-timers?
TW: "Try to go for the final day, Saturday. The whole main marque is sold off and there's a mad rush for the best flowers at cut-down prices at the end. It's really worth watching the chaotic excitement if nothing else!"
What's on your bookshelf?
TW: "I've actually written a book. It's called Big Ideas, Small Spaces. It gives a lot of background on urban gardening. We've explained 30 different projects that people can do, either on a balcony or in their garden and it also explains the different types of plants you can use."
Do you have a podcast recommendation?
TW: "I would recommend On the Ledge by Jane Perrone, particularly for people who are interested in house plants. It covers everything from growing herbs in the kitchen through to what plants to grow on your bedside table. It covers all bases for the everyday plant lover and well worth a listen."
Get tickets to the show taking place at the Royal Hospital Chelsea from Tuesday 21 May - Saturday 25 May 2019. Find out what else is going on and become part of the show at the RHS website.
Want to find out more about garden designer Tony Woods? Read the full Garden Club London story where we hear from the urban garden designers transforming the capital, one balcony at the time.
Keep an eye out on our community hub for the best ways to green up your office space with top tips from experts coming soon.