History of Chelsea flower Show


Also known as The Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show, RHS Chelsea Flower Show – possibly one of the greatest gardening shows in the world, is expected to attract 165,000 visitors and over 500 exhibitors this year over 5 days!



In 1833, the RHS started to hold shows in their Chiswick garden. Unfortunately these shows were not successful because of poor transport links.

In 1862, the first shows were held at the RHS garden in Kensington and were called the Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show. The show moved to its current address, in 1913. The gardens of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, one of many stunning Christopher Wren designs in London. The hospital is home to superannuated soldiers who wear a very recognisable uniform and can be seen daily walking around Chelsea. Apart from during the two world wars, the show has been held annually at the Royal Hospital since.



Due to the General Strike of 1926, the organisers decided it best to delay the show, it was held instead a week later. 1928 saw a near disaster when terrific storm hit the evening before the show was due to start. Hailstones caused severe damage and flooding but staff rallied through the night and the show was able to open as planned.

First used in 1951, the Great Marquee held the majority of the exhibitor’s stands at the show. The marquee actually made it into the Guinness Book of Records for being the world’s largest tent. Its replacement in 2000 was a modular pavilion. The old marquee was, reportedly, turned into 7,000 bags, aprons, and jackets.



RHS Chelsea Flower Show today is one of the highlights of the social calendar. With a high media presence and daily and extensive BBC coverage, this highly prestigious show’s popularity increases year on year. The area of land that is used for the show has increased steadily over the years to its current approximately 11 acres, and it is the site size alone that dictates the maximum capacity. The tickets sell out in advance and it is not possible to buy them on the gate. In 2005 the show days were increased from 4 to 5, really showing how the public love to be part of this great British tradition. Members of the British Royal Family and celebrities are regularly seen on the preview day, with Her Majesty the Queen being the current patron of the RHS. The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the main places during the year to spot new trends and for designers established and new to really showcase their work to the world of horticulture. New plants are very often launched at the show and the use of social media means that people world-wide are able to participate in this great show where ever they are.


Did you know?

In 1929 the American garden designer, Sherman Hoyt, exhibited a stunning cacti garden. After the show, Sherman donated the plants and the desert backdrop to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. The garden was displayed for over 50 years.