Essex in bloom at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Taking time to smell the roses at the show

Taking time to smell the roses at the show - Credit: Archant

Each year the world’s most famous flower show sets the scene for the very best in gardening, bursting with inspiration for you to take home. Philippa Pearson profiles the Essex exhibitors going for gold at Chelsea

Anything can become a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Anything can become a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Credit: RHS/Andy Paradise

The Great Pavilion

A treasure trove of outstanding plants from leading growers and nurseries with displays from horticultural organisations from across the UK and the world, the Great Pavilion is at the heart of the show.

Grenada’s sumptuous display will educate and inform visitors on the wonderful range of spices and tropical rainforest plants grown in Grenada. ‘Spice Isle’ reflects the name by which Grenada is known worldwide for its production of nutmeg, mace and a host of other spices.

Multiple Chelsea gold medal-winner and Grenada-born Suzanne Gaywood, who now lives at Woodham Walter, designs the Chelsea display each year, creating it with friends and neighbours from the village. Suzanne’s design will highlight the rich vegetation typical of Grenada’s rainforest plants on one side and a beach scene on the other.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Enterprise Plants from Upminster is using Begonia rex plants to create living walls in its Secret Pleasure Garden. The 4m high walls use dark begonias on the outside and paler varieties on the inside with more than 4,000 plants used for the display. Clare Kneen, from Little Walden near Saffron Walden, is organising the exhibit for family nursery Cayeux Iris from France. New iris varieties bred by Cayeux will be launched at the show.

Ken Muir started exhibiting at RHS Chelsea in 1967. Based at Weeley Heath near Clacton, Roger Muir and his team have been busy planting up and growing on strawberry plants since March.

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Their exhibit is planted with thousands of plants featuring many of their favourite strawberry varieties including ‘Sonata’ which has large sweet fruits and is used for taste testing at the show.

Gardening Sundries

Around the showground there are shops galore with some of the newest and most innovative gardening products and a wide range of beautiful accessories to decorate any garden.

Barlow Tyrie from Braintree is a third generation family company established in 1920 and will showcase a selection from its extensive range of outdoor leisure furniture. New collections include the solid teak Chesapeake range, a dining table in the Titan range made from recycled teak off cuts, the aluminium Piazza range available in a wide choice of colours and ceramic-topped tables in the Equinox range.

Ruskins Tree and Landscapes from Great Warley showcases a collection of tall trees suitable for any size of garden, even small ones, and Canvey Island based The New Eden has a traditional garden shop with a corrugated roof and cottage planting in the Ranelagh Gardens area of the show to show off the collection of garden gifts and accessories, café sets and tools. John Harris Products from Langdon Hills near Basildon will be exhibiting at the show for the fourth time, with a range of garden products including the ‘clip’n’hang’ range of pot holders, hanging baskets and bird feeder brackets.

The large Bulldog Tools stand is packed with the Harlow company’s fantastic tool selection and features new Mechanix garden gloves for ladies, while lightweight and colourful contemporary planters, including illuminated ones, are on display at Posh Patio from Halstead. With all its products made in the UK, Woodford Green-based Outdoor Beanbag has a lovely range of bean bags in all shapes, colours and sizes for both outdoors and indoors. >>

Family company Robinson Brothers from Colchester features a great range of patio and terrace furniture including accessories and gifts on its exhibit. Innerspace and Beyond Limitations are two large figurative sculptures on display courtesy of Colchester-based John O’Connor. Working mostly in foundry bronze with some pieces in mixed media resin, John’s sculptures evoke peace and tranquillity.

Fresh Gardens

Sitting alongside the main Show Gardens, Fresh Gardens combine the latest design innovations and materials for a vibrant and distinctive look.

Countryside Properties from Brentwood are sponsors of the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s Mind’s Eye Garden. The garden is inspired by a joint scheme between Countryside and RNIB to redevelop the existing RNIB Community Living Service facilities at Redhill, Surrey. This Chelsea garden features a series of contrasting sensory experiences, water rills, four climatic planting zones and a glass cube partially covered in moving water. Visitors are encouraged to experience the touch, sound, taste and smell of the garden which afterwards will be incorporated within a sensory trail at the Redhill re-development and form a key part of RNIB’s educational programme.

Top tips for visiting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The show is open from Tuesday, May 20 to Saturday, May 24 in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. From May 20 to 21 is RHS members only and May 22 to 24 is for RHS members and non-members. All tickets must be bought in advance: see for ticket information. The show opens at 8am each morning and is less crowded then.


Decide in advance what areas or exhibitors you particularly want to see. Visit the RHS website for more details at

Make a note Take a notebook and pen to jot down plant names or equipment. Also useful to get celebrity autographs! Change is also useful for plant catalogues in the Great Pavilion.

REFRESHMENTS The catering outlets get very busy at peak times so take water and snacks to keep you going. You can book a table for lunch in advance at the Rock Bank Restaurant, just visit the RHS website for more information.

WHAT NOT TO WEAR Comfortable shoes and a raincoat are essential. Rucksacks and big bags should be avoided, so check these into the cloakroom for safe keeping.

BUYING PLANTS You can only order plants for collection/delivery later on. However, at 4pm on the Saturday there is a plant sell-off at many of the exhibits.

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