Chelsea Flower Show: First ever virtual event opens

Chelsea Flower Show: First ever virtual event opens

Show Garden at event

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PA Media

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The virtual Chelsea Flower Show will be taking place throughout the week

The first ever virtual Chelsea Flower Show has begun with a visit to some of the unseen parts of Monty Don’s garden.

The event usually takes place annually at London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea, but was cancelled for the first time since World War Two due to the lockdown.

Content including tours of designers’ own gardens and demonstrations is being posted on the show’s website throughout the week.

The event’s organisers said it was “about sharing gardening knowledge”.

Describing how this event would be different to others, Don said: “It’s happening, just not quite as we know it.”

Garden at the event

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RHS/Tim Sandell

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Show gardens can take up to two years of planning to put together

Garden at the event

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The show normally attracts thousands of visitors

Different themes will be followed on each day of the virtual show, such as wildlife gardening, health and wellbeing, and growing plants in small or indoor spaces.

There will also be potting demonstrations, a “school gardening club” and lunchtime Q&As with garden experts.

Chelsea pensioners at event

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Getty Images

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Visitors to the online event will include Chelsea pensioners from the hospital tending to their allotments

People with plants at previous event

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Getty Images

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Many normally use the show to stock up on plants for their gardens

Katherine Potsides, head of shows development at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), told the BBC exhibitors who would normally be at the event would be “showing us round the corners of their gardens” and demonstrating “what they’re doing at this time to brighten up their own back yards”.

“Part of virtual Chelsea really is about sharing that gardening knowledge,” she said.

In a message to its organisers, the Queen said she and her family had “always enjoyed visiting the show” and she was “pleased to hear that you will be providing gardening advice and virtual sessions on your website”.

“As you adapt to the present circumstances, I hope you find this unique event enjoyable and interesting,” she said.

King George V and Queen Mary visit the Chelsea Flower Show in 1930

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PA Media

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The Royal Family have been regulars at the event including King George V and Queen Mary in 1930

The Queen at the event

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PA Media

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The Queen is a patron of the RHS

RHS members will be able to see the content from Monday, with it being made available for everyone else over the rest of the week.

Special programmes looking back at the best of the Chelsea Flower Show will also be shown on BBC One and BBC Two.

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Chelsea Flower Show

2019 flower exhibit

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RHS/Luke MacGregor

  • The first show opened on 20 May 1913 with the first events held over three days within a single marquee
  • A show still took place in 1915 after war was declared in Europe although with fewer exhibitors. It was then cancelled for the remainder of World War One
  • Rain during the 1932 show was so severe that a summer house fell to pieces
  • The flower show was discontinued again in 1939 due to World War Two, only returning in 1947
  • The RHS lifted its ban on gnomes for the centenary show in 2013 and famous faces such as Elton John and Helen Mirren painted figures to sell for charity
  • The current Great Pavilion is about 11,775 sq m (2.9 acres) in size, approximately enough room to park 500 London buses

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