A different kind of flower show

21st September 2021

For the first time in its history, this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be held in September instead of May.  Grounds Manager Ric Glenn says it will pose challenges as well as opportunities.

A unique set of challenges 

While competitors are considering the plants they can use at an autumnal flower show, the Royal Hospital’s gardeners are concerned with the implications for the grounds, as Ric explains:

“It’s the end of the season and what flowers are around then will be a consideration – although flowers can be flown in from around the world. 

From our perspective, what will be interesting is what happens afterwards – as after big events like this the ground takes a fair bit of wear and tear. Reinstatement of the grounds will start at the beginning of October and like so much in horticulture it will be totally dependent on the weather. 

A very wet autumn will cause a lot of damage and if it’s suddenly very cold we might find that it’s difficult to germinate grass, so it gets green again for the very next flower show which is the following spring. On the plus side, there will be fewer issues with watering – there’s no doubt there will be more moisture in the ground.”

New opportunities 

From a creative point of view, Ric agrees that it will be interesting to see the impact of autumnal flowers, foliage and fruits in this year’s gardens. He also believes that measures to ensure the occasion is safe may well enhance the visitor experience:

“Having to be mindful of social distancing might lead to a better flower show experience for the visitors to the show. My experience is that it can be very crowded, so if there are some measures to space people out a little bit more that ultimately lead to better flower shows in future for guests.”

As far as the weather prospects are concerned, Ric is looking on the bright side:

“I’m an optimist and I think it’s going to be an absolutely beautiful autumn, but I’m not going to be held to that!”

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