On May 23, you’ll be able to walk through the gates of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and be transported from Spain and Malta to China, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. Many of this year’s gardens evoke exotic climes, while others look to the Yorkshire coast, the Norfolk marshes and Berkshire’s heathland. The themes of education, art and sustainability have also inspired the designers.
We can probably expect planting styles to be diverse too, and nurseries that grow the bulk of the show garden plants say many designers are going for bright and cheery summer colours, including deep purple and burnt orange. These bold, unsubtle hues may startle the hortirati – will they work, or look like a bag of jelly beans?
But at this stage, a bigger talking point is sponsorship – or lack of. There are only eight show gardens on Main Avenue this year, even fewer than the previous low of 13 in 2009 (known as the “Credit Crunch Chelsea”) and a big drop from 17 last year. High-profile names such as Laurent Perrier have not returned and others, such as L’Occitane and the Telegraph, are sitting out this year.